Table Tennis: Sharath on cloud nineJanuary 10, 2019, Delhi
Veteran A. Sharath Kamal and youngster Archana Kamath scripted history becoming the singles National champion in men’s and women’s events, respectively, on the concluding day of the 80th 11Sports National Table Tennis Championship in the grand finale at the J.N. Indoor Stadium arena.
While Sharath saved a match point before scraping past his Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) teammate G. Sathiyan for a record ninth National championship title, Archana became the second-youngest women’s National champion after edging past West Bengal’s Krittwika Sinha Roy.
In the final, Archana started well, but with both the tied at 1-1, Krittwika surged ahead with a 9-4 lead. Archana then showed her all-round game to clinch seven points on the go to take the lead. In the fourth game as well, Krittwika led 9-6, but the 18-year-old again came back with a four-point run to lead. Krittwika returned well in the fifth game to close the margin but couldn’t match Archana’s speed in the sixth and ended up on the losing side in her second appearance in a Nationals final.
The Sharath-Sathiyan affair then lived up to its reputation with the World No. 30 and 31 engaged in a fierce battle — both in terms of quality and tactics. Despite playing seven best-of-seven matches in 30 hours, both the paddlers gave all they had.
At 10-8 in the fifth game, Sharath had the opportunity to take 3-2 lead but Sathiyan came back to equal scores and Sharath missed the service to hand the game over to his Chennai junior.
In the decider, Sharath opened up a 5-2 lead but after change of side, he missed a forehand and a backhand top-spin to give Sathiyan a window who raced ahead 7-5. At 10-9, Sathiyan got his match point but netted a backhand top-spin.
Sharath then converted his third match point to overhaul Kamlesh Mehta’s record of eight National titles and went down on the mat in disbelief.
The results: Men: Final: A. Sharath Kamal (PSPB) bt G. Sathiyan (PSPB) 11-13, 11-5, 11-6, 5-11, 10-12, 11-6, 14-12; Semifinals: Sharath bt Manav Thakkar (PSPB) 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6; Sathiyan bt Ronit Bhanja (WB) 11-2, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7.
Doubles: Final: Arjun Ghosh & Ronit Bhanja (WB) bt Anirban Ghosh & Anirban Nandi (RSPB) 14-12, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10.
Women: Final: Archana Kamath (PSPB) bt Krittwika Sinha Roy (WB) 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10, 7-11, 11-3; Semifinals: Archana bt Manika Batra (PSPB) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8; Krittwika bt Ahyhika Mukherjee (WB) 11-6, 11-13, 15-13, 15-17, 11-8, 3-11, 11-7.
Doubles: Final: Nikhat Banu & Sreeja Akula (Tel) bt Anannya Basak & Srushti Haleangadi (Mah) 11-2, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7.