Birdie Boro took to swimming, first to shed puppy fat before competing in State meets in Assam. But a switch to table tennis is now bringing him rich rewards.

The top-seeded Birdie, from the Petroleum Academy, was in deep trouble before defeating West Bengal's Anirban Ghosh 4-3 to win his maiden boys' title in the New India Assurance National sub-junior table tennis championship here on Tuesday evening. West Bengal's Sumana Saha had taken the girls title earlier, defeating her Statemate Moumita Das 4-1 at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium.

Birdie had lost to the seventh-seeded Anirban Ghosh in the team final earlier and the nightmare appeared to haunt him again when he trailed 1-3 in the boys' final. Ghosh was on a grand march with an attacking game, he used both back and forehand smashes to good effect, while his opponent appeared to have lost his rhythm.

Seeing his opponent tiring, Birdie re-grouped and came back strongly to win the fifth game and gain a 9-3 lead in the next. But doubts began to creep in once again as Anirban levelled the score at eight and then moved to match point. But when he managed to keep his nerve and win the sixth game to draw level 3-3, Birdie regained his confidence and smashed his way to the title in the decider.

“I knew if I take him to the decider, I would win because physically I am stronger,” he said. The victory brought him Rs 26,000.

In contrast, the seventh-seeded Sumana did not have to sweat much against the unseeded Moumita for her top prize of Rs. 22,000.

Moumita had jolted West Bengal's top-seeded Priyadarshini Das in the semifinal but there was not much she could do against Sumana in the title round.

The results: Sub-juniors: boys: final: Birdie Boro (PSPB Academy, Ajmer) bt Anirban Ghosh (WB) 7-11, 7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5. 12-10,11-5; Semifinals: Birdie bt Arjun Ghosh (WB) 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 7-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-2; Anirban bt Ayush Tayal (Har) 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7. Quarterfinals: Anirban bt Lalrin Puia (PSPB-A) 11-2, 11-8, 12-14, 11-6, 11-9; Arjun bt Lalhun Lua (PSPB-A) 11-3, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5; Ayush bt Manav Thakkar (Guj) 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 11-1; Birdie bt D. Ananth (TN) 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7. Doubles: final: Birdie Boro & Lalrin Puia (PSPB A) bt Lalhun Lua & Raja Kundu (PSPB A) 11-6, 11-8, 11-8.

Girls: final: Sumana Saha (WB) bt. Moumita Dutta (WB) 11-4, 13-11, 7-11, 11-2, 11-4; Semifinals: Moumita bt Priyadarshini Das (WB) 6-1, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 15-13, 11-5; Sumana bt Harsha Vardhani (TN) 4-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8. Quarterfinals: Priyadarshini bt Varuni Jaiswal (AP) 10-12, 6-11, 11-6, 9-11, 17-15, 11-4. 11-7; Moumita bt Johita Banerjee (WB) 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 3-11, 11-9, 11-5; Harsha bt Koushani Nath (WB) 9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 12-10, 12-10, 11-6; Sumana bt Sagorika Mukherjee (WB) 11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9.

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