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Manav Thakkar lifts UTT West Zone men’s crown

Champions: Sreejaa Akula and Manav Thakkar with their reward.

Champions: Sreejaa Akula and Manav Thakkar with their reward.   | Photo Credit: Vibhav Birwatkar

Sreeja rallies to down Takeme for women’s title

At 19, Manav Thakkar chose to participate only in the men’s category midway through the ongoing season. And the bespectacled paddler justified his decision by lifting the second title of the season, making short work of Sanil Shetty in the final of the UTT West Zone National Ranking table tennis tournament on Friday.

Soon after Sreeja Akula made a stunning comeback against giant-killer Takeme Sarkar in a thrilling final to claim the women’s title, Thakkar showed his class by running over southpaw Shetty.

Clear favourite

With four of the top five Indian paddlers skipping the tournament, Thakkar was the clear favourite but it was incredible to see the way he stamped his authority all through the tournament.

Thakkar later revealed he decided to stop competing in youth after the season-opening zonal in Sonepat, Haryana in June.

“I had made up my mind pre-season itself to concentrate solely on the men’s event but since I had failed to win the youth national championship last season, I decided to win the first zonal and then stop playing youth,” Thakkar told The Hindu.

“Playing only in men’s does add to the pressure in a sense but it helps me conserve my energy and attention on only one event.

“And the two titles this season have proven that I have made the right decision.”

While Thakkar followed up on his last week’s title in Howrah, Sreeja made a remarkable return against Sarkar to join Thakkar in the club of twin titles for the season.

However, it appeared that Sarkar will end her dream run on a fitting note when she surged ahead 9-5 in the sixth game after leading 3-2.

But Sreeja showed her prowess with her powerful forehand winners and exceptional control to enforce the decider. In the last game, Sreeja took her game to the next level and finish the match off in style.

The results: Men’s: Final: Manav Thakkar (PSPB) bt Sanil Shetty (PSPB) 11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 11-2, 11-9.

Semifinals: Thakkar bt Manush Shah (Guj) 12-10, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7; Shetty bt Jeet Chandra (Har) 11-6, 12-10, 11-4, 11-5.

Women’s: Final: Sreeja Akula (RBI) bt Takeme Sarkar (RSPB) 12-10, 9-11, 5-11, 9-11, 11-4, 13-11, 11-7.

Semifinals: Sreeja bt Diya Chitale (Mah) 11-2, 15-13, 11-7, 11-3; Sarkar bt Kaushani Nath (RSPB) 11-3, 11-5, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 3:18:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/manav-thakkar-lifts-utt-west-zone-mens-crown/article29857135.ece

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