Subhajit, Poulomi are champions

KIRTI PATIL

IT is more than a year since the 11-point-game format has been in place. This September, the 'service change after two serves' rule was introduced. The game became exciting, but the orthodox players started fumbling. Those who adapted to the changes quickly were rewarded.

Subhajit Saha (right) and Poulomi Ghatak (below) won the men's and women's titles respectively.-SANDEEP SAXENA

Former National champion Poulomi Ghatak had been struggling with the new format for quite some time. She had been lying low in the rankings, currently placed sixth, while others thrived. But she overcame her inhibitions to the 11-point format and swept past an impressive women's field and won the Central India National Ranking championship in Indore.

The National champion Mouma Das and the Inter-Institutional champion T. Pradeepa were billed to reach the summit clash. But, as it turned out, Poulomi, with her inquisitive game, set aside all the hurdles.

She met Pradeepa in the quarterfinal stage and without much of a struggle got the better of her opponent. Poulomi won 11-4, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-7. In the semifinals, she faced Railways' Mamta Prabhu, a quarterfinal victor over Mantu Ghosh. Poulomi fought brilliantly and won 11-5, 14-12, 12-10, 11-9.

From the top half of the draw, Mouma Das made it through, beating Anandita Chakraborty of Railways in the semifinals. In an all-Petroleum final showdown, Poulomi prevailed 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-5.

''The 11-point format had troubled me for the past one year. But I quickly got used to the new service change rules and I hope to do well in the bigger tournaments," said Poulomi.

Subhajit Saha completed a double for the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) as he outsmarted an erratic S. Raman in the men's final.

Inexplicably though, both the men's and women's finals lacked the character that is usually associated with the title matches.

Southpaw Raman, who, throughout the tournament sweated the least, was expected to provide a much better show. What he missed out against Subhajit was speed and flank control. The fleet-footed Subhajit amazingly picked several deep returns and was in full control of the match.

After losing the first game, the India No. 2 Subhajit found his rhythm and won two tight games. From then on it was easy, as laxity seemed to have crept into Raman's game. Subhajit, who played a seven-game semifinal against A. Sarath Kamal in the morning, won 5-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-3, 11-7.

V. SUDERSHAN

''This title was important for me. Nothing had come my way for long. The tough semifinal had hardened my resolve and I was confident about getting past Raman," said Subhajit.

After the series of zonal ranking tournaments, Pune will host the Nationals in January. "This is a good preparation for the two international tournaments we are readying for," said Subhajit.

India, after having missed a gold at home in the Commonwealth championships last year, is preparing for another strike at it. The 2003 Commonwealth championship is scheduled to be held in Bangkok in February.

''Our target is Commonwealth and soon after the Nationals we will assemble in Patiala for the preparatory camp. Then the SAF Games would also be round the corner," Subhajit said. The oft-postponed SAF Games are scheduled to be held in Islamabad in March.

After an abysmal outing in the Busan Asian Games - not much was expected from Subhajit with the world's best in the fray - the winner's prize of Rs. 30,000 was something of a solace.

He had reached the final from the lower half of the draw, beating Shivaji Dutta in the quarterfinals and Sarath in the semifinals.

The top-half witnessed more drama with the National champion Soumyadeep Roy being busted out of the competition by Railways' Bhushan Thakur. Playing one of his career-best matches, Bhushan conquered Soumyadeep in four straight identical games, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9. Raman had quietly moved up, and the way he disposed of Bhushan in the semifinals with a 11-6, 11-7, 11-5, 3-11, 11-2 win, it seemed that the Railwayman had emptied all his steam in the quarterfinals itself.

In the junior category, Subhadeep Das of Bengal won the boys' title defeating Uday S. Atreya of Karnataka 11-5, 13-11, 11-7, 11-8. A product of the famous 'Bengal School of table tennis', Subhadeep made a mockery of the rankings by ousting top seed Arunava Ganguly of the Ajmer-based Petroleum Academy, in the semifinals.

The ever-consistent Moushmi Pal of the Centre of Excellence, Kolkata, won the girls' title. She beat Tamil Nadu's S. Sangeetha 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9, rallying from a 1-2 deficit.

Sukanya Bose claimed the honours in the sub-junior girls' section.-V. V. KRISHNAN

In the sub-junior category, Devesh Karia of the Petroleum Academy and Sukanya Bose of Bengal annexed the boys' and girls' titles respectively.

In a contest between the two top seeds, Devesh justified his billing with an 11-7, 11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6 win over Tuhin Sinha of Bengal. Sukanya blasted Shikha Sharma of Delhi 13-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3.

The results:

Men: Final: Subhajit Saha (PSPB) bt S. Raman (PSPB) 5-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-3, 11-7.

Semifinals: Raman bt Bhushan Thakur (Rlys) 11-6, 11-7, 11-5, 3-11, 11-2; Subhajit bt A. Sarath Kamal (Rlys) 11-5, 10-12, 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7.

Quarterfinals: Bhushan bt Soumyadeep Roy (PSPB) 11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9; Raman bt Arjun Dutta (PSPB) 6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6; Sarath bt Sourav Chakraborty (Rlys) 11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8; Subhajit bt Shivaji Dutta (PSPB) 11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8.

Women: Final: Poulomi Ghatak (PSPB) bt Mouma Das (PSPB) 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-5.

Semifinals: Mouma bt Anandita Chakraborty (Rlys) 11-1, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 7-11, 8-11, 13-11; Poulami bt Mamta Prabhu (Rlys) 11-5, 14-12, 12-10, 11-9.

Quarterfinals: Mouma bt Shushmita Roy (Rlys) 8-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7; Anandita bt Vishakha Vijoy (Rlys) 14-12, 11-7, 11-9, 11-3; Mamta bt Mantu Ghosh (PSPB) 9-11, 11-1, 5-11, 11-4, 11-2, 11-13, 11-4; Poulami bt T. Pradeepa (LIC-TN) 11-4, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-7.

Moushmi Pal won the junior girls' title.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Boys: Junior: Final: Subhadeep Das (Ben) bt Uday S. Atreya (Kar) 11-5, 13-11, 11-7, 11-8.

Semifinals: Subhadeep bt Arunava Ganguly (PSPB Academy) 11-9, 12-14, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 16-18, 11-7; Uday bt Sameer Prabhu (PSPB Academy) 6-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7.

Quarterfinals: Arunava bt Priyanuj Borthakur (Centre of Excellence, Kolkata) 11-1, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8; Subhadeep bt Onkar Turgalkar (Mah) 11-6, 7-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-6; Uday bt A. Amalraj (PSPB Academy) 11-7, 6-11, 2-11, 11-8, 2-11, 11-6, 11-9; Sameer bt A. Rajath Kamal (Indian Bank-TN) 12-10, 7-11, 11-9, 12-14, 11-4, 6-11, 11-6.

Sub-junior: Final: Devesh Karia (PSPB Academy) bt Tuhin Sinha (Ben) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6.

Semifinals: Devesh bt Kankojit Mondal (Ben) 11-2, 11-6, 11-5, 11-3; Tuhin bt Susovan Das (Ben) 11-9, 11-3, 11-8, 8-11, 6-11, 11-9.

Quarterfinals: Devesh bt C. P. Kartik (Kar) 13-15, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9; Kankojit bt Shubham Kundu (Ben) 11-5, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 12-14, 11-6; Susovan bt Aman Balgu (PSPB Academy) 14-12, 11-13, 8-11, 11-3, 15-13, 12-10; Tuhin bt Anirban Roy Choudhary (Ben) 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10.

Girls: Junior: Final: Moushmi Pal (Centre of Excellence, Kolkata) bt S. Sangeetha (TN) 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9.

Semifinals: Sangeetha bt Pallavi Kundu (Ben) 11-9, 11-7, 12-10, 10-12, 11-6; Moushmi bt Anushree Saha (Ben) 4-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-4.

Quarterfinals: Pallavi bt A. V. Nivedita (TN) 11-9, 11-4, 11-8, 7-11, 9-11, 11-5; Sangeetha bt Sayantika Kundu (Ben) 7-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8; Moushmi bt J. Swarna (TN) 11-5, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7; Anushree bt M. Aparna (TN) 12-10, 11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7.

Sub-junior: Final: Sukanya Bose (Ben) bt Shikha Sharma (Del) 13-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3.

Semifinals: Shikha bt Shabana Parveen (Ben) 11-8, 13-11, 11-8, 6-11, 9-11, 5-11, 11-7; Sukanya bt Pallavi Kundu (Ben) 11-4, 11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 11-1.

Quarterfinals: Shikha bt Salankara Mahalanobis (Ben) 11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7; Shabana bt Prajakta Tipale (Mah) 11-7, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5; Pallavi bt A. V. Nivedita (TN) 11-3, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6; Sukanya bt Neha Agarwal (Del) 11-9, 11-7, 11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6.