The champion bowed out, but not without a fight. Nitten Kirrtane summoned all his craft, experience and energy, not to forget the unmatched fighting spirit, yet but could not subdue the top-seeded Mohit Mayur in the men’s semifinals of the Fenesta National tennis championship.
Former Davis cup coach Nandan Bal had observed that he expected the unseeded Arjun Kadhe and the bespectacled Mohit Mayur, with their strong all-round game, to clash in the final. He was proven right, as Mohit and Arjun made the final in contrasting style at the DLTA Complex here on Friday.
It was an intelligent ploy on the part of Mohit that he did not try to hit his way past the former national champion Nitten who was not giving him many balls to whack. At the same time, Mohit avoided falling into the defensive trap of his cunning opponent who could weave a web around him and shackle his game.
It was to the credit of Nitten that he was able to win the second set, before Mohit hurtled to a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 victory in just under two hours.
Nitten completely avoided the explosive forehand of Mohit and kept him pinned on his backhand. Coach Nandan Bal may be worried about Mohit’s inclination to grind rather than play his strong game, thanks to the long stint in Spain, but it was indeed a mature approach in the given context against a crafty opponent.
Arjun Kadhe was not stretched much and got past Chandril Sood, who shone in patches.
In the women’s section, the top-seeded Shweta Rana stumbled early on but regrouped her game nicely to subdue Sharmada Balu in three sets. Coached by Todd Clark, the 20-year-old Shweta would attempt to improve on her final appearance in 2007.
In the final, Shweta will be up against defending champion Prerna Bhambri who made light work of taming the sweet-stroking Sai Samhitha, whose one-handed backhand was a treat to watch for its rare fluency. Sai, however, had the consolation of setting up the girls’ final against the top-seeded Simran Kaur Sethi.
Shweta had the measure of Prerna in the doubles final, as she in partnership with Rushmi Chakravarthi won the title. Rushmi’s firm ground strokes and placements coupled with Shweta’s spirited play and sharpness at the net, prevailed over Prena and Sharmada Balu in straight sets.
In the boys’ semifinals, Hardeep Singh Sandhu outplayed his fellow trainee from Harvest Academy, Udayan Bhakar who had enjoyed a dream run beating the top-seeded Shaik Abdullah and the talented Nikki Poonacha. In the final, he will be challenged by Mukund Sasikumar.
In the girls’ doubles final, wild card entrants Snehal Mane and Nandini Sharma shocked the top-seeded Vanshika Sawhney and Himani Mor 10-7 in the super tie-break.
Men (semifinals): Mohit Mayur bt Nitten Kirrtane 6-1, 2-6, 6-2; Arjun Kadhe bt Chandril Sood 6-2, 6-1. Doubles (final): Arjun Kadhe & Mohit Mayur bt P. C. Vignesh & Fariz Mohammad 6-4, 6-4.
Women (semifinals): Shweta Rana bt Sharmada Balu 4-6, 6-1, 6-1; Prerna Bhambri bt Sai Samhitha 6-2, 6-1.
Doubles (final): Rushmi Chakravarthi & Shweta Rana bt Sharmada Balu and Prerna Bhambri 6-4, 7-5.
Under-18 boys (semifinals): Hardeep Singh Sandhu bt Udayan Bhakar 6-2, 6-2; Mukund Sasikumar bt Dalwinder Singh 6-3, 6-0. Doubles (final): Deepak Vishwakarma & Aditya Deswal bt Alex Solanki & B. R. Nikshep 6-3, 6-4.
Under-18 girls (semifinals): Simran Kaur Sethi bt Karman Kaur 6-4, 3-6, 6-4; Sai Samhitha bt Teertha Iska 6-3, 6-0. Doubles (final): Snehal Mane & Nandini Sharma bt Vanshika Sawhney & Himani Mor 6-0, 4-6, 10-7.