Harmeet becomes national TT champion, Sutirtha wins her second crown

HYDERABAD: A seven-year wait finally ended on Sunday when Harmeet Desai he secured his first male male individual title. It was in 2013 when young Harmeet had reached his first final, but then he could not emulate that performance.

It turned out to be a different story in the UTT 81st National Table tennis Championship in the indoor stadium of Saroornagar. The early loss of A Sharath Kamal and then G Sathiyan's departure in the semifinals opened the door for Harmeet to realize his long dream. However, the sixth seed had to beat a Manav Thakkar who was struggling to get his hands on the precious trophy. Harmeet beat Manav 4-3 in a fascinating final.

Haryana's Sutirtha Mukherjee He also made a memorable tournament by securing his second national crown with a 4-0 victory over Krittwika Sinha Roy of PSPB. He had previously won the title in Ranchi in 2017. He pocketed 1.65 rupee lakh for his effort in the final. In the process, Sutirtha also won three gold medals, including in the team event and women's doubles, in addition to obtaining a silver in the mixed event.

Since I started training at the center (in Germany) where I can play with the best rowers in the world, I have improved my selections of blocks and shots, said a happy Harmeet, who trains at the Axton Center in Germany.

It was his calm and composure in the seventh set that helped him win the crown. Manav and I have been traveling together and when you get involved in long demonstrations, most of the time you win. And the mistakes I made in the sixth set forced me to rethink and I decided to remain calm in the decision, Harmeet, who pocketed Rs 2.5 lakh, admitted.

After taking a 2-1 lead, Manav kept coming towards him and leveled to take the issue to the decisive set. But in the last set, it was a different Harmeet, as it slowed down to deny Manav the influence he was looking for.

When he changed the final in 5-2, the writing on the wall was clear to the Surat boy while Harmeet made his way to the title by allowing only three more points for his state mate. By the way, this was the first time that two Gujarat rowers reached the final and shared the gold and silver medals.

Krittwika, playing in his third final, in 2013, 2019 and 2020, failed to leave a mark against a strong backhand player like Sutirtha. The mismatch was evident from the way the Haryana girl hit the PSPB player in the first set. Even before one could blink, Sutirtha was up 2-0, showing bold blows backwards and occasional blows from the right.  Sutirtha Mukherjee Sutirtha Mukherjee

Krittwika, with her powerful blows from the right, was amazed by Sutirtha's excellent counters. However, the PSPB player was a little close in the third set, but it was only a blink since Sutirtha had taken complete control of the procedures. So much so, Krittwika rejected his right-wing blows of confidence and switched to the reverse blocks, but the paddler Haryana had answers to all the questions asked.

Sathiyan retires in semifinals

Sathiyan had no luck the third time. Having barely survived Manush Shah in previous quarters and Ronit Bhanja in quarters, he met his rival in young Manav, who drew his strength from two extended set victories that placed him in an enviable position. Sathiyan, known for his returns, became unproductive because of Manav's ingenious game plan, as he took advantage of all the opportunities presented to him.

In fact, both produced great blows and used the flanks really well. However, it was Manav who was able to increase the pressure from the beginning against the Sathiyan, which normally flows easily. He locked hard and even played well from near the table, as well as away from it.

But he was good enough to reduce the margin to 2-3 and when he led 9-5 in the sixth set, a certain Manav won four points in the trot to level the score. With the service back with him, the world's number 1 youth player finished the last two points set to deny Sathiyan another chance for the title.

Harmeet Desai, playing the second semifinal at the adjacent table, showed no mercy to Haryana's Soumyajit Ghosh and went up to a 3-0 lead before losing the fourth. Ghosh fought well in the fifth and even approached his rival, but Harmeet won the two crucial sets and the match points after they were 12-all.

The new-found confidence in Sutirtha Mukherjee told a completely different story as she shaped up for her semifinal against Ayhika Mukherjee. The Haryana girl opened well before losing the second game only to assume complete control over the RBI player. After winning the third set on minimal points, the top-seed completed the task in quick time, rendering Ayhika a mere spectator.

In the second semifinals, Krittwika Sinha Roy did not allow Anika Das de Bengal any freedom, who was on her way back. After a wonderful quarter-final yesterday, Ankita could not understand the basics while spraying the ball here and there. Krittwika, on the other hand, kept it quite simple and took a 2-0 lead. In the third set, however, Ankita showed a glimpse of a comeback, but Krittwika won it in his third game point before completing the formality in the next.

Haryana rowers shine in doubles

Haryana made her presence felt when her rowers won gold medals in men's and women's doubles before losing the third gold in the mixed event.

After Jubin Kumar and Soumyajit Ghosh combined well to beat Gujarat's Manush Shah and Ishaan Hingorani 3-1 in men's doubles, it was the turn of Sutirtha and Riti Shankan to beat Bengal 'A' duo of Surbhi Patwari and Poymantee Baisya in women doubles.

Later, Sutirtha and Sourav Saha settled with silver in mixed hard doubles, losing 1-3 to the Bengal couple of Ronit Bhanja and Mousumi Paul .


Men's singles (final): Harmeet Desai (PSPB) bt Manav Thakkar (PSPB) 11-4, 11-13, 14-12, 9-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5. SFs: Manav Thakkar bt G Sathiyan (PSPB) 11-9, 16-14, 7-11, 15-13, 6-11, 11-9; Harmeet Desai bt Soumyajit Ghosh (Har) 11-9, 11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 14-12. Doubles (final): Jubin Kumar/Soumyajit Ghosh (Har) bt Manush Shah/Ishaan Hingorani (Guj) 11-7, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7.

Women's singles (final): Sutirtha Mukherjee (Har) bt Krittwika Sinha Roy (PSPB) 11-4, 11-5, 11-8, 11-4. SFs: Sutirtha Mukherjee bt Ayhika Mukherjee (RBI) 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5; Krittwika Sinha Roy bt Ankita Das (Ben B) 11-9, 11-6, 15-13, 11-7.

Doubles (final): Sutirtha Mukherjee/Riti Shankar (Har) bt Surbhi Patwari/Poymantee Baisya (Ben A) 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8.

Mixed doubles (final): Ronit Bhanja/Mousumi Paul (Ben A) bt Sourav Saha/Sutirtha Mukherjee (Har) 15-13, 8-11, 12-10, 13-11.