Defending champion Diya Chitale retained the youth girls title with a hard-fought win while Swastika Ghosh came-from behind to claim her maiden junior girls crown at the UTT 82nd Junior and Youth National Table Tennis Championships at the Abhay Prashal here on Tuesday.

The 4-3 triumph was full of a character-assessment lesson for any youngster watching the match, as the Maharashtra girl, down 2-3 and 3-5 in the sixth game, first built up confidence and then the points to outsmart her Karnataka rival Yashaswini Ghorphade. The decider summed up Diya’s character in as many words when she mounted an 8-0 lead to make the title-triumph a runaway and box-office hit, fetching her Rs 63,000 in prize money.

The Karnataka girl preferred a defensive mode to her usual defence-and-attack stance. That was her cardinal mistake and it never paid off. Diya, on the other hand, never let off her guard and reaped the benefits of her rival’s negatives. Too many net errors also hastened Yashaswini’s problem, upsetting her rhythm.

Swastika Ghosh, also from Maharashtra, claimed her maiden Junior Girls crown when she scored a come-from-behind victory (4-2) over Haryana’s Suhana Saini in the final. Suhana had everything going for her until the second game. She took the vital 2-0 lead, winning the second game on extended points. However, Swastika upped the quality of her game and used a mix-matched attack on the flanks. They fetched her the crucial points and, at times, put the Haryana girl into a push-back mode rather than play herself in and attack. All of these went in favour of the Maharashtra girl who gained in strength. A few of Suhana’s close-to-the-net services didn’t yield good results. At 10-8, Suhana served similarly, taking her closer to Swastika’s score. She repeated it in her next, but Swastika was up to it and returned short. Suhana put it back on the net, giving the Maharashtra girl her title point.

Mixed bags

The Youth Girls semi-finals failed to raise their standards and proved rather one-sided. For instance, Radhapriya Goel of UP showed an enormous presence of mind and was quick to pounce on the opportunities yesterday but she was out of sorts today. Indeed, her opponent and defending champion Diya Chitale was in a zone of her own. Yet, one expected the UP girl to show dynamism and bring a few varieties to the table against an attacking rival.

That was sorely missing and, that’s perhaps the reason the first-semifinal was lacking the bite. The second between Anannya Basak and Yashaswini Ghorpade had some twist to the tale, at least in the opening game. But the Karnataka girl, despite losing the first on extended points, brought a semblance of steadiness. So much so, she hit a nice rhythm and surged coolly to blunt the Maharashtra girl’s attacking returns. What was admirable about Yashaswini was she did manage to keep the ball on the table, fetching her points in a sequence. Rattled as she was, Anannya just did the catch-up job throughout.

However, the Junior Girls semi-finals had all the thrills. Delhi’s Lakshita Narag, who had proved to be a late flourisher so far in the tournament, was no different today. Trailing 0-2 straightway against top-seeded Swastika Ghosh, the Delhi girl hit back nicely to level the score. But Lakshita’s undoing was that she failed to stifle her Maharashtra opponent from that point. Swastika, though, seized her moments to ensure a better colour of medal for her.

In contrast, Suhana Saini did the opposite of everything to Lakshita in her semi-final against Nithyashree Mani of Tamil Nadu. Trailing 0-2, the Haryana girl inched her way up the ladder with massive consistency. Nithyashree, on the other hand, could not match up to absorb the pressure and self-destructed, game after game.

Another glaring quality between the two was Suhana’s never-say-die attitude in the tournament. She had been in many awkward situations and still managed to find a way to come out of them. Nithyashree, from a comfortable zone, could never finish fine, except in the quarterfinal yesterday.

The award distribution took place in the chief hospitality of MP Singh, secretary of the Commonwealth Table Tennis Union.The programme was chaired by Dhanraj Chaudhary, treasurer of the Asian Table Tennis Union.Om Soni, Vice President of the Indian Table Tennis Federation, and Competition Director N Ganesan werepresent as a special guest. MP Table Tennis Association General Secretary Jayesh Acharya, Treasurer Pramod Gangarade, Rinku Acharya, Nilesh Ved had a special presence. The programme was conducted by Gaurav Patel andvote of thanks was proposed by Amit Kotia.

The Results:

Youth Girls: Final: Diya Chitale (Mah) bt Yashaswini Ghorpade (Kar) 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 5-11, 11-8, 11-2.

Semi-finals: Diya Chitale bt Radhapriya Goel (UP) 11-8, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9; Yashaswini Ghorpade bt Anannya Basak (Mah) 7-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4.

Junior Girls: Final: Swastika Ghosh (Mah) bt Suhana Saini (Har) 7-11, 11-13, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6, 11-9.

Semi-finals: Swastika Ghosh bt Lakshita Narang (Del) 13-11, 11-6, 9-11, 5-11, 11-3, 11-5; Suhana Saini bt Nithyashree Mani (TTTA) 8-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4.

Source : FreePress Journal