Raman is still the best

RAKESH RAO

JUST when the older players are finding it difficult to earn the respect of the younger ones, twice National champion S. Raman is surely proving to be an exception. Even at 33, this Indian Oil employee has enough fuel to outrun most of the younger, fitter and talented boys of the present generation.

V. SUDERSHAN

Having cut down on his participation in domestic tournaments in order to devote more time to his family, Raman has done pretty well this season. In three outings, Raman won the prestigious Inter-Institutional championship in New Delhi, reached the Central Zone final at Indore and followed it up by claiming the honours in the West Zone at Nagpur.

What more, Raman has beaten the reigning National champion Soumyadeep Roy twice in as many meetings recently. But what made his triumph at Nagpur special was the manner in which he dominated the opposition. What underlined his superiority was the fact that he dropped just two games on way to the title.

Poulomi Ghatak got the better of an erratic N. R. Indu in the women's final.-RAJEEV BHATT

In the final, one expected fellow left-hander Saurav Chakraborty to test Raman but the Railway youngster was too passive in the 20-minute final. Raman settled down early and unleashed a barrage of winners. Chakraborty, despite holding four game points in what turned out to be the final game, just could not go further.

Chakraborty had earlier accounted for unseeded Anirban Nandi, the man who upstaged second seed and Central Zone champion Subhajit Saha. Raman had stopped Roy after dropping the first game of their semi-final.

If Raman claimed the title after finishing runner-up in Central Zone the previous weekend, Poulomi Ghatak, too, made similar amends. She got the better of an erratic N. R. Indu in the final. Earlier in the day, Indu had stopped firm favourite Mouma Das in the semi-final. A jaded Indu later attributed her below par performance in the final to the fact that she had played some very long matches on the way.

Poulomi, the losing finalist to Mouma at Indore, had beaten T. Pradeepa in the quarterfinals and Mantu Ghosh in the semifinals. Still, it must be said that in the women's game in domestic competitions, it is almost impossible to predict the winner since there is very little to choose among the top five-six players.

In the juniors, Arunava Ganguly proved his superiority in the boys' section but not before being taken the distance by Bengal's Niloy Basak in the final. In fact, the boys from the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board Academy (PSPBA) once again proved to be the main stumbling blocks for their formidable challengers from Bengal. In a rare occurrence, three of the semi-finalists were from the PSPBA.

Devesh Karia took the sub-junior boys' title.-S. PATRONOBISH

The Bengal girls, fourth seed Mausami Paul and sixth seed Anushree Saha, made it to the final of the junior section after brushing aside their rivals from the southern States in the semi-finals. In the final, Mausami went on to tame Anushree.

Earlier, Karnataka's B. M. Ashwini had surprised Tamil Nadu's M. Aparna, the top-seed, in the quarterfinals after K. Shamini of Indian Bank had put out second seed Madhurika Patkar in the pre-quarterfinals.

In the sub-junior section, PSBPA's Devesh Karia justified his billing among boys while Bengal's unseeded girl Soumi Mondal managed to emerge as the strongest in the category.

After the early exit of second seed Tuhin Sinha of Centre of Excellence, Kolkata, it became quite clear that Bengal would find it difficult to stop the PSPBA brigade. Karia and team-mate Aman Balgoo, seeded three, fought it out in the final after getting past their Bengal rivals along the way.

In contrast, the sub-junior girls' section saw more upsets. Eighth seed Sabana Parveen ousted Bengal team-mate and top seed Salankara Mahalanobish in the quarterfinals and Delhi's fifth seed Shikha Sharma in the semi-finals. Soumi got the better of second seeded Delhi-girl Neha Agarwal in the semi-final before stopping Sabana for the title.

Arunava Ganguly proved his superiority in the boys' section but not before being taken the distance by Niloy Basak in the final.-S. PATRONOBISH

As far as the technical conduct of the tournament was concerned, it was a grand success. Since it was the first major table tennis event to be hosted by Nagpur in over two decades, the enthusiasm among the organisers was justified. Creditably, the lack of any sponsor did not prevent the organisers from doing a good job.

The results:

Men (final): S. Raman (PSPB) bt Saurav Chakraborty (Rlys) 11-2, 11-8, 12-10, 15-13; (semifinals): Raman bt Soumyadeep Roy (PSPB) 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8; Chakraborty bt Anirban Nandi (Rlys) 11-7, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-3.

Boys: (final): Arunava Ganguly (PSPBA) bt Niloy Basak (Ben) 11-3, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3; (semifinals): Ganguly bt Zubin Kumar (PSPBA) 11-7, 5-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-3; Basak bt A. Amalraj (PSPBA) 8-11, 11-8, 3-11, 15-13, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5.

Sub-junior boys: (final): Devesh Karia (PSPBA) bt Aman Balgoo (PSPBA) 11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6, 11-5; (semifinals): Karia bt R. S. Raja (TN) 5-11, 11-13, 11-7, 16-14, 14-12, 7-11, 11-6; Balgoo bt Sayanpaul Roy (Ben) 11-8, 11-8, 13-11, 8-11, 11-4.

Women: (final): Poulomi Ghatak (PSPB) bt N. R. Indu (PSPB) 13-11, 11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6; (semifinals): Indu bt Mouma Das (PSPB) 9-11, 11-4, 11-5, 12-10, 7-11, 11-9; Poulomi bt Mantu Ghosh (PSPB) 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-7.

Girls: (final): Mausami Paul (Ben) bt Anushree Saha (Ben) 11-3, 9-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 11-5; (semifinals): Mausami bt B. M. Ashwini (Kar) 11-5, 11-6, 11-0, 11-9; Anushree bt J. Swarna (TN) 12-10, 8-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9.

Sub-junior girls: (final): Soumi Mondal (Ben) bt Sabana Parvin (Ben) 12-10, 11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 8-11, 13-11; (semifinals): Sabana bt Shikha Sharma (Del) 11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 15-13, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10; Soumi bt Neha Agarwal (Del) 11-13, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7.