SPORT

Sathiyan overpowers Soumyajit

Rakesh Rao

JAIPUR: A well-composed G. Sathiyan out-thought a better prepared Soumyajit Ghosh when it mattered the most and claimed the junior boys’ title in the South Asian junior table tennis championship under the leaking roof of the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Tuesday evening.

In what was a repeat result of the National junior final played earlier this year, Sathiyan won 15-13, 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8.

As expected the Indians regained the team titles and monopolised all four singles finals after ensuring the two doubles gold medals at stake. India matched its last years tally of 10 gold and four silver medals.

Sathiyan saved four game-points in the first game and converted his first when the Bengal-lad failed to land a forehand service-return.

The Tamil Nadu-boy repeatedly exploited the discomfort of his rival in returning from close to the body.

A desperate Ghosh, who tossed away a 6-4 cushion in the second game and 7-4 in the fifth, was only himself to blame for a series of unforced errors.

Just when Ghosh moved 8-7 ahead in the fifth game, a much-awaited downpour exposed the poor upkeep of this air-conditioned indoor facility. The leaking roof affected the showpiece arena, apart from three adjacent tables and the Chief Referees desk.

All this embarrassed an already irked Table Tennis Federation of India Secretary General Moolchand Chowhan who had paid Rs. 8 lakh for the use of the stadium for one week.

Since this happened when players from China, Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei were practising in the same arena, a fuming Mr. Chowhan made no secret of his resolve to keep all international events away from this venue in future.

Following a 25-minute interruption the Ghosh-Sathiyan match was shifted to another table. A focussed Sathiyan gave nothing away and won four points on the trot to take the title.

A little later, Pooja Sahastrabudhe defeated an uncharacteristically erratic National junior Ankita Das in five games to win the junior girls’ title.

Pooja’s 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-2, 9-11, 11-9 victory brought down the curtains on the two-day meet.

Earlier, the Lankan cadet girls almost spoilt India’s party. The host barely managed to escape a big embarrassment after trailing twice in the final league match.

Reeth Rishya surprisingly lost to Vithanage Gonapinuwala in the opening singles 8-11, 12-14, 13-11, 11-8 before Mallika blanked Erandi Warusawithana in straight games. Undeterred, the Lankan duo of Vithanage and Erandi once again put Lanka ahead by beating Mallika and Cemelia Sil 5-11, 11-9, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8. Mallika returned to put India on level terms with a straight-game victory over Vithanage.

Thereafter in a nerve-wracking deciding rubber, Reeth prevailed over Erandi 12-10, 12-10, 12-14, 11-9 to save India the blushes.

The results (Indians unless stated): Junior boys (final): G. Sathiyan bt Soumyajit Ghosh 15-13, 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8; semifinals: Ghosh bt Salman Virk (Pak) 11-9, 8-11, 11-3, 11-4; G. Sathiyan bt Chatura Lekam Wasam (Sri) 11-7, 11-5, 11-2.

Junior girls (final): Pooja Sahasrabudhe bt Ankita Das 11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-2, 9-11, 11-9; semifinals: Pooja bt D. Gonapinuwalage (Sri) 11-2, 11-8, 11-4; Ankita bt Mudiyanselage Weerakon 11-3, 11-2, 11-5.

Cadet boys (final): Abhishek Yadav bt Rajib Sarkar 11-8, 11-6,

11-7; semifinals: Sarkar bt Ashkqur Rahman (Ban) 11-6, 11-2, 11-5; Yadav bt Hashintha Arsamarakkala (Sri) 6-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-4.

Cadet girls (final): Mallika Bhandarkar bt Reeth Rishiya 11-5, 7-11, 6-11, 11-4, 11-6; semifinals: Mallika bt Renuka Khatri (Nep) 11-6, 11-7, 11-6; Reeth bt Erandi Warusawithana (Sri) 9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-4.

Boys doubles (final): G. Sathiyan and Soumyajeet Ghosh bt Salman Virk and Waqas Ayub (Pak) 7-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-3.

Girls doubles (final): Ankita Das and Pooja Sahasrabuddhe bt Mudiyanselage Weerakon and D. Gonapinuwalage 11-7, 18-16, 11-8.

Team championship standings:

Junior boys: 1. India, 2. Pakistan, 3. Sri Lanka, 4. Nepal.

Junior girls: 1. India, 2. Sri Lanka, 3. Nepal, 4. Pakistan.

Cadet boys: 1. India, 2. Sri Lanka, 3. Pakistan, 4. Nepal.

Cadet girls: 1. India, 2. Sri Lanka, 3. Nepal, 4. Pakistan.

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