Showing glimpses of his class, Sharath Kamal stopped a resurgent Soumyajit Ghosh to win the UTT National ranking table tennis title on Thursday.
In the presence of Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya, Sharath changed gears at will during his 6-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-7, 6-11, 9-11, 11-6 victory over the former National champion.
In the women’s title match, featuring two first-time finalists, Prapti Sen fought back thrice from deficit to overcome her good friend Swastika Ghosh 4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-9, 15-13 at Panchkula’s Devi Lal Stadium.
Though the men’s title-clash went the distance, Sharath never looked in danger of losing even after Ghosh battled back from 1-3 to draw level.
After Ghosh won the sixth set after being 0-5 down, Sharath moved from 0-2 to 8-2 in the decider to ensure there was no more drama. “I was surprised by the sharpness of some of Ghosh’s shots,” acknowledged Sharath as he looked back at the final. “This was good practice for me ahead of the events in Tunisia and Slovenia. I must admit I have not been in great mind-space after what transpired following the Tokyo Games. But I surprised myself with the way I dealt with the challenges here.”
Sharath’s first ranking title since the 2016 South Zone event at Visakhapatnam fetched him Rs. 84,000. Ghosh, who said he was playing at almost 90 per cent of his form of early 2018, gained Rs. 42,000.
Prapti was richer by Rs. 72,000, and Swastika collected Rs. 36,000.
Earlier in the day, the men’s semifinals proved thrilling. Down 1-3 against Desai, Sharath bounced back to make it 3-3 and then saved a match-point at 9-10 and added the next two points for a place in the final.
A little later, Ghosh ended Thakkar’s resistance after rallying from 7-10 in the deciding set.
Meanwhile, in under-19, top seeds Payas Jain and Swastika Ghosh led the top four seeds of each section into the quarterfinals.
Men (final): Sharath Kamal bt Soumyajit Ghosh 6-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-7, 6-11, 9-11, 11-6; (semifinals): Sharath bt Harmeet Desai 11-8, 8-11, 4-11; 7-11, 11-4, 11-9, 12-10; Ghosh bt Manav Thakkar 14-16, 11-5, 11-6, 13-11, 6-11, 9-11, 14-12.
Women (final): Prapti Sen bt Swastika Ghosh 4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-9, 15-13; (semifinals): Prapti bt Takeme Sarkar 15-13, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10; Swastika bt Anusha Kutumbale 11-9, 12-10, 11-7, 11-6.
Shillong to host National TT tourney
Shillong will host the National table tennis championship from January 21 to 29, 2022.
The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) also finalised the schedule of rest of the Nationals and ranking events for the season on Thursday.
December 7-13: National ranking championship at Dehradun.
December 20-27: National ranking championship (South Zone) at Pondicherry.
January 3-9: National ranking championship (Central Zone) at Indore.
January 11-17: National youth (under-13 and under-15) at Indore.
January 21-28: National championship at Shillong.
February 6-13: National youth (under-17 and under-19) at Thiruvananthapuram.