Abhinand, Jennifer shine in TTOctober 28, 2021, Mohali
Tamil Nadu’s PB Abhinand and Maharashtra’s Jennifer Varghese took a similar route in the Youth U-15 boys’ and girls’ finals, respectively, on the concluding day of the UTT National Ranking North Zone Table Tennis Championship at the Sector 78 Sports Complex here today.
Jennifer defeated Sandika Bhattacharjee of West Bengal (4-2) and Abhinand followed suit with an identical score line to beat statemate Balamurugan Muthu. Abhinand opened well to falter, allowing Balamurugan a comfortable recovery. But he could not sustain against the consistent onslaught from Abhinand and, despite his brave efforts, ended as the runner-up. What changed the fortune in Abhinand’s favour was his laboured wins in the fifth and sixth games on extended points.
Jennifer, cadet nationals champion in 2019, made a bright opening against second seed Sandika Bhattacharjee. However, the West Bengal girl staged a nice comeback to lead 2-1. In fact, the fourth game gave Jennifer confidence and brought some sanity to the haphazard game plan she dished out in the previous two games. By the time the fifth game began, the match was going only one way.
Abhinand knocked the stuffing out of fourth seed Kushal Chopda to enter the final. Earlier, Abhinand survived a scare as West Bengal’s Oishik Ghosh, the eighth seed, stretched him the maximum. Fourth seed Kushal Chopda, the only other top eight players to endure, also entered the semi-finals beating Abhinav Murthy of Karnataka (4-1). Two unseeded players from Tamil Nadu — Balamurugan Muthu and Nikkhil Menon — also made the semi-final cut.
In the girls’ category, the top seed bowed out when fourth seed Jennifer Varghese outplayed to win (4-1). The Tamil Nadu girl was visibly hampered and could not come to terms with Jennifer’s attacking approach. Hansini did take a game off her rival, but it was too little and too late. Second seed Sandika Bhattacharjee showed character to take the last two games on her way to the final after trailing (3-2).