Shankara, Swarnalatha claim titles

SEEING the response to the 32nd senior National Carrom tournament at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore, anybody will change his or her opinion of the game.

D. RAVI SHANKAR

SEEING the response to the 32nd senior National Carrom tournament at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore, anybody will change his or her opinion of the game. While many still think it is an indoor domestic game with hardly any potential, the turn out at the venue makes one amend such a thought. With players from 28 States and eight institutions, the stadium was jampacked.

R.M. Shankara of Indian Airlines, the current World champion played true to form and won all his matches. Shankara playing at his home venue was only sixth seed for the National singles tournament but he grew with confidence with every game and pitted against Vidarbha's Ashok Gaur in the men's final started off in fine fashion easily annexing the first game at 25-5. In the second game Shankara held the lead at 14-11 when the Vidarbha challenger began to make a serious contest of the match. Ashok slipped quickly into a 17-14 lead and with some accurate striking took the second game at 25-19. But Shankara was in top form in the decider. A white slam saw Shankara sweep to victory shutting out any hopes for Ashok Gaur cleaning up at 25-0. This was R.M. Shankara's second national title.

Earlier, in the semi-final, Shankara was pitted against Yogesh Pardeshi, his opponent in the third World Championship finals. Shankara beat the Petroleum Sports Board player 25-14,25-16.

Ashok Gaur defied the seedings playing as a total outsider. In his semi-final match, Ashok had defeated the more fancied and higher rated Jagan Bangle of Bank Sports Board in a hard fought match. The first game itself was see-saw till Ashok emerged winner at 22-20. Ashok raced to a 19-10 lead in the second game only to see Jagan levelling the scores. However Ashok stopped Jagan's flow and closed the match at 25-20.

The men's doubles title went to E. Magimai Raj and M. Nataraj of Indian Airlines. The final was an epic three and a half hour contest with opponents G. Shiva and Abdul Sagir of Reserve Bank of India essaying a stiff challenge. Magamai Raj and Nataraj eventually won 15-25,25-23,25-16.

On the distaff side, D. Swarnalatha of IA & AD was extended in the first game of the final against S. Apoorva of LIC. Swarnalatha laboured to a 25-23 win in the first game but in the second, Swarnalatha found the pockets with consistency winning at 25-8. Swarnalatha was extended in the semi-finals by Kavitha Somanchi of RBI before eking out a 19-25, 25-24, 25-3 win, while Apoorva had played a topsy turvy game against Suvarna of Hyderabad winning 25-20, 0-25, 25-15.

The women's doubles pair of P. Nirmala and S. Apoorva of LIC were clearly superior to their rivals Monaz Tanttra and Sujatha Hyalinge of Maharashtra. The LIC girls won in straight games.

The results: Men's singles: R.M. Shankara (IA) bt Ashok Gaur (Vid) 25-5,19-25,25-0; Doubles: E. Magamai Raj/ M. Nataraj (IA) bt Abdul Sagir and G. Shiva (RBI) 15-25,25-23,25-16; Veterans: Altaf Ahmed (IA & AD) bt C .S. Dhawale (Vid) 25-18,25-22.

Women's singles: D. Swarnalatha (IA & AD) bt S. Apoorva (LIC) 25-23,25-8; Doubles: P. Nirmala/S. Apoorva (LIC) bt Monaz Tanttra/Sujatha Hyalinge (Mah) 25-10,25-11; Veterans: Parvathi Bhat (Kar) bt D. Savitri (Hyd) 25-6,25-8;

Team Championships: Institutions: Men: Banks Sports Board bt Life Insurance Corporation 2-1; Women: Banks Sports Board bt Reserve Bank of India 3-0; All India Inter-State team events: Women: Hyderabad bt Tamil Nadu 2-1; Men: Maharashtra bt Tamil Nadu 2-1.