SPORT

Tariq, Akshitha emerge champions

Akshitha B. Raj (left) of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu's Tariq Jacob, winners of the girls' and boys' titles respectively in the AITA Super Series under-14 tennis tournament in Bangalore on Saturday.

Akshitha B. Raj (left) of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu's Tariq Jacob, winners of the girls' and boys' titles respectively in the AITA Super Series under-14 tennis tournament in Bangalore on Saturday.  

BANGALORE Nov. 1. Tariq Jacob, the 14-year-old lad from Chennai, capped his good run in the AITA Super Series under-14 championship with a well-deserved title win at the KSLTA Stadium here today.

In an absorbing final, the second-seeded Tariq beat the local favourite and top seed Mesheer Vaswani 6-4, 6-4 in about 90 minutes.

The girls' top seed, Akshitha B. Raj, who had bagged the Nutrine and Nike events, added another title to her kitty, beating Sushrutha Reddy of Andhra Pradesh 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in the final.

Tariq, ranked No. 6 on the AITA under-14 list, has a blend of good strokes and good serve, giving him the edge. Unlike the earlier matches when he was consistent with his first serve, Tariq ran into problems in this area but made up for it with superb shots.

He varied his angles and came up with precise placements to unsettle his hard-hitting rival, Mesheer. The Bangalore boy carries a big forehand but his consistency and temperament were always suspect and it made a difference in the summit clash. Mesheer failed to convert the big points and made quite a few doublefaults.

In the first set, Mesheer began with two successive doublefaults to drop the first game and that was all Tariq needed to tighten his grip on the set. Though Mesheer improved as the tie progressed, he was unable to break Tariq despite getting close on a couple of occasions.

Tariq, after taking the first set 6-4 with a single break, was unable to sustain the pressure in the second due to his serves. Both players traded breaks till 4-4 but the Chennai boy steadied himself and cracked Mesheer in the ninth game. Tariq whipped a down-the-line return to reach breakpoint and Mesheer obliged him by swiping forehand out. Tariq, now 5-4, served out the match in style.

The girls' final was a long baseline battle. Akshitha did well to take the first set 6-3 with two quick breaks but faced some resistance from Sushrutha in the second. The Andhra Pradesh girl, trailing 2-5, did well to level 5-5 and also pushed the set into a tie-breaker. The tie-breaker was a close affair and the score read 5-5 before Akshitha won 7-5 to take the set and title. Ramaswamy, Joint Secretary, KSLTA, presided and gave away the prizes.

The results (finals):

Singles: Boys: Tariq Jacob (TN) bt Mesheer Vaswani (Kar) 6-4, 6-4.

Girls: Akshitha B. Raj (Kar) bt Sushrutha Reddy (AP) 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).

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