TABLE TENNIS / Young Sanil Shetty shines bright in defeat
Singapore men and women used the team championship finals to send out strong signals to those thinking of denying them a medal sweep in the upcoming singles events of the Commonwealth table tennis championship here.
Singapore dropped just two games in each final on way to 3-0 victories. The English women and Indian men had to bow to the superiority of the champion side.
The result was a foregone conclusion even before the commencement of the championship but the way Singapore stamped its authority leaves very little hope for those aspiring for singles medals.
The title for the Singapore women was seventh in succession since 1997. The Singapore men completed a hat-trick of success that began in 2007 at Jaipur and continued at Glasgow in 2009.
For India, which lost 1-3 in the previous final, it was silver once again. Soumyajit Ghosh and Sharath Kamal sensed the current form of the medal favourites Zhan Jian and Li Hu after suffering defeats in straight games.
Later, what turned out to be the best phase for India, Sanil Shetty played his heart out against Ma Liang for five games. Shetty squandered leads of 4-0 in the fourth game and 7-4 in the decider to rue a defeat that came after Ma Liang won the final seven points.
Ghosh, drawn to play Zhan Jian in the singles pre-quarterfinals on Thursday, got a fair idea of the class of world No. 25. Ghosh did raise visions of snatching the first game after leading 10-6 but could do very little as Zhan Jian attacked vigorously on both flanks to leave Ghosh stranded to win 13-11.
In the next two games, Ghosh never got another chance.
Sharath, who had beaten Li Hu in their only previous meeting three years back, found the Singaporean a much-improved player at the net. Shetty, playing his first Commonwealth championship, almost repeated his earlier victory over Ma Liang scored in the Qatar Open under-21 event three years ago. “I was very confident against Liang. I hit the ball well throughout. I should have closed the match in four games.
In the decider, after leading 7-4, I could not figure out his backhand-spin with a banana-like follow-through. But I gave it all,” said the left-handed youngster from Mumbai.
In the women’s team final, world No. 4 Teng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu gave a game each to Joanna Parker and Kelly Sibley before proving stronger.
In the third singles, Zhou Yihan was not so generous to Ho Tin-Tin in a well-contest match.
Later in the day, Soumyajit Ghosh and Mouma Das ensured India a medal in mixed doubles by reaching the semifinals.
The Indian pair defeated England's Daniel Reed and Kelly Sibley 11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4 in the quarterfinals.
National Champion K. Shamini's participation in the World table tennis championship starting in Paris next week is in limbo.
Following her reluctance to play in key team matches against Singapore and England in the ongoing Commonwealth championship here, the Table Tennis Federation of India has decided to monitor her performance in the singles event before taking a call.
The results (team championship, final):
Men: Singapore bt India 3-0 (Zhan Jian bt Soumyajit Ghosh 13-11, 11-8, 11-3; Li Hu bt A. Sharath Kamal 11-4, 11-4, 11-9; Ma Liang bt Sanil Shetty 11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7).
Women: Singapore bt England 3-0 (Feng Tianwei bt Joanna Parker 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7; Yu Mengyu bt Kelly Sibley 14-12, 16-14, 9-11, 11-9; Zhou Yihan bt Ho Tin-Tin 11-4, 12-10, 11-8).