Sanil also picks up the mixed doubles crown

The old guard stood exposed while the new ones expressed themselves in a forceful manner as the 75th senior National table tennis championships came to a close at the Patliputra Sports Complex here on Sunday.

In their maiden final at the senior Nationals, 24-year-old Sanil Shetty and 20-year-old Ankita Das bagged the men’s and women’s titles in style. Sanil took home Rs. 2,30,000 while Ankita received Rs. 1,45,000.

Sanil outplayed giant-killer Harmeet Desai, who shocked six-time champion Sharath Kamal in the semifinals, 11-9, 11-7, 10-12, 12-10, 7-11, 11-7 in the summit clash. “This Nationals will be really memorable for me as I won the mixed doubles, the team event (PSPB) and the singles,” said Sanil.

Ankita, a semifinalist in the last two editions, drubbed Krittwika Sinha Roy (AAI) 11-9, 12-10, 11-8, 13-11. “Unlike the previous two Nationals, I was under more pressure this time as Krittwika and I are more or less of the same age,” said Ankita.

Headstart

Having toured together for several pro-tours in the last couple of years, Sanil and Harmeet knew each other’s game very well.

It was Sanil who had a headstart, taking the first two games with good serving and effective receiving. Harmeet, on the other hand, was struggling to find his rhythm; his trademark top-spin forehand and backhand drives weren’t as effective.

Slowly and steadily, Harmeet found his groove. Trailing by a game (1-2), the 20-year-old from Gujarat put up an excellent display in the fourth. In quick time, he took a 10-4 lead and hopes re-emerged. 

However, Sanil went on to win the next eight points — the down-the-line backhand winner at 10-10 taking the cake. Though Harmeet reduced the margin by winning the fifth game, Sanil kept up the pressure to triumph.

Interestingly, when Sanil was serving for the match at 10-5 in the sixth game, the final was held up for a while due to the arrival of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to the venue. Ankita and Krittwika (she hadn’t gone past the pre-quarterfinal stage before) did not show any signs of nervousness, with both playing an attacking brand of table tennis. It was refreshing to watch the two youngsters battle it out.

Earlier in the semifinals, defending champion K. Shamini failed to live up to her reputation, losing to Krittwika 12-10, 7-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6.

The contest wasn’t exciting by any means as both players took a cautious approach, hoping the other would make a mistake.

In the second women’s semifinal, Ankita put it across first-time semifinalist T. Reeth Rishya in straight games.

The results: Men: Final: Sanil Shetty (PSPB) bt Harmeet Desai (PSPB) 11-9, 11-7, 10-12, 12-10, 7-11, 11-7. Semifinals: Harmeet bt Sharath Kamal (PSPB) 13-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6; Sanil bt Soumyadeep Roy (WB) 13-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-13, 11-6.

Women: Final: Ankita Das (PSPB) bt Krittwika Sinha Roy (AAI) 11-9, 12-10, 11-8, 13-11. Semifinals: Krittwika (AAI) bt K. Shamini (PSPB) 12-10, 7-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6; Ankita bt T. Reeth Rishya (PSPB) 11-3, 11-9, 11-3, 11-4.

Mixed doubles: Final: Sanil & Neha Aggarwal (PSPB) bt Arjun Ghosh & Mousmi Paul (WB) 15-13, 12-10, 7-11, 12-10.

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