Ranchi, January 30: A. Shrath Kamal yet again proved the adage that old is gold, The 36-year-old beat top-seeded Anthony Amalraj 4-1 to win the men singles title for the eighth time, equalling the feat of Kamlesh Mehta in the 79th edition of the 11Even Sports Senior Nationals at the Mega Sports Complex at Khelgaon here today.
The win was worth Rs. 2 lakhs, but what Sharath would have cherished more on the evening was the warm hug that he received from the man, who held the record for so many years watching him perform from close quarters. As the last point was won, Kamlesh stood and applauded the modern icon’s efforts and without wasting time crossed the surrounds to applaud the Chennai man as photographers captured rare moment.
“It’s a proud moment for me personally, Sharath deserves all the accolades,” said the former eight-time national champion. But Sharah was equally humble when he said: “What he (Kamlesh) did was more praiseworthy because I am two levels above the current lot of players. But Kamlesh had to fight with players of same caliber to accomplish the honour.”
Whatever be the case, Sharath was simply fantastic. He did lose his first game but hit the groove once he found his touch and timing. There were flashes of some genius in some of the down-the-line shots and placements and, however hard Amalraj tried, he could not deny the champion his place under the sun.
Suthirta Mukehrjee from West Bengal emerged the new women champion, beating Hyderabad Nationals winner Manika Batra 4-3. Her maiden effort fetched Rs. 1.5 lakh and Manika received 50 percent less in prize money.
In what was essentially a back-handers’ final, Suthirta cashed in on Manika’s numerous mistakes, particularly when she missed the match point at 10-9. Earlier, she was woefully down 1-4 but the timeout at that time revived her confidence before change over for a 4-5 score. From there she went 8-6 up and then at 8-9 she levelled score to give her a glimmer of hope. But at 10-9 she wasted the opportunity and Suthirtha, keeping a cool head, won 12-10.
In earlier games, the block-push-and prod games of the finalists did help the one that did fewer mistakes as there were several negatives to be offered to the opponents. But with great struggle Manika made it 3-3 to take the issue to the decider and deny Manika her second title.
If Suthirta Mukherjee defeated RBI’s Ayhika Mukherjee with ease in women singles first semifinal, it was a big struggle for Manika Batra with strong response coming from an unexpected quarter—qualifier Mallika Bhandarkar pushing her to the wall. But then the experience of the second seed won her the day as, despite being in arrears at 5-7 in the decider, the PSPB paddler fought well to level score and then won on her second match point at 12-10. It was a creditable performance that she managed to reach semifinal and give a tough fight to Manika.
Top-seed Suthirta didn’t face any such issue as she proved to be far superior than Ayhika.
The men semifinals were strikingly contrast in nature. In the Sharath vs Sathiyan match, fewer rallies were played while Manav Thakkar and Amalraj’s tie witnessed endless rallies. In effect, the second match dragged on and on before Amalraj prevailed.
Sharath began nicely but Sathiyan won the first game convincingly, though it was just momentary. Sharath, showing his class, bounced back to go 2-1 up. Yet, Sathiyan made it 2-all rather easily and even led 7-5 in the sixth game with Sharath’s shots going frustratingly awry. But once Sharath went 8-7, with his timing returning, he allowed Sathiyan just one point before wrapping up the match.
Probably, the second game took its toll on Manav Thakkar. It saw several deuces, the two players losing advantages on a few occasions and Manav finally clinching it 20-18. However, the fourth game which Manav lost 11-13 was the turning point for Amalraj as he went from strength to strength to outwit young Manav.
In all-Haryana men doubles, the left-right combination of Jubin Kumar and Soumyajit Ghosh decimated rivals Mohit Verma and Sourav Sha 3-0e. The losing pair found the going very tough and paid the price sooner than later.
But in the tough women doubles final, the West Bengal duo of Krittwika Sinha Roy and Mousumi Paul defeated the PSPB combine of Mouma Das and Archana Kamath 3-2. With Archana and Mouma not so convincing, they allowed their opponents comeback in the fourth game and level score. That’s where the balance swung as the West Bengal paddlers ran up a quick 7-1 lead before Mouma and Archana caught up slowly. But then with fewer points in arrears, Krittiwika and Mousumi won with a lot to spare.
RBI’s Raj Mondal and Akula Sreeja beat North Bengal’s Akaash Nath and Ankita Das to claim the mixed doubles gold. The final saw fluctuating fortunes as a clear verdict came about only in the last game. RBI pair deserved to win the title after leading 2-1and playing the decider particularly well.
Men: Final: A. Sharath Kamal (PSPB) bt Anthony Amalraj (PSPB) 6-11, 11-6, 15-13, 11-8, 11-7; Semifinals: A. Amalraj bt Manav Thakkar (PSPB) 6-11, 18-20, 11-9, 13-11, 11-7, 12-10; A. Sharath Kamal bt G. Sathiyan (PSPB) 4-11, 11-6, 11-6, 2-11, 11-6, 11-8;
Doubles: Final: Soumyajit Ghosh-Jubin Kumar (HRN) bt Mohit Verma-Sourav Saha (HRN) 11-2, 11-6, 11-6.
Women: Final: Suthirta Mukherjee (WB) bt Manika Batra (PSPB) 11-4, 11-13, 11-6, 5-11, 11-2, 9-11, 12-10;Semifinals: Suthirta Mukherjee bt Ayhika Mukherjee (RBI) 11-9, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8; Manika Batra bt Mallika Bhandarkar (MHR) 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 4-11, 11-5, 12-10.
Doubles: Final: Mousumi Paul-Krittwika Sinha Roy (WB) bt Mouma Das-Archana Kamath (PSPB) 6-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7.
Mixed Doubles: Final: Raj Mondal-Akula Sreeja (RBI) bt Akaash Nath-Ankita Das (NB) 11-8,11-9, 9-11, 6-11, 11-6.
Press Release – TTFI
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