Albuquerque Raegan justified his No.1 seeding to claim the junior boys’ crown while Ishita Gupta surprised everyone including herself to win the junior girls' title in the East Zone National-ranking table tennis tournament at the R.G. Baruah Sports Complex's Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.
Raegan played a non-negotiable aggressive game to outwit Manush Shah of Gujarat, seeded two, in six games at 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8. Ishita, seeded eighth, put it across the top seed Prapti Sen of West Bengal in straight games at 11-3, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6.
Raegan, trained by Shailaja Gohad at the Boosters Academy (Mumbai) was on the offensive from the first point. Manush, too wasn’t far behind as he constructed quite a few delectable winners. It was just that the top seed was more consistent and had more firepower.
With the players tied at two games each, the fifth game was closely contested before Raegan pipped Manush at the end. The sixth game looked to be going one-sided as Raegan ran up a 10-2 lead, but the Gujarat lad fought back to take the next six points before his whiplash of a backhand went long.
"It was under a bit of pressure as I was the No.1 seed. I wanted to play like No.1 and I am happy that I did it. I gave my 100 per cent,” said Raegan, who was part of the Indian boys team which won the team and doubles bronze medals in the Serbian Junior & Cadet Open.
Favourite to win the title, Prapti, the top seed, didn’t play her usual game as she was reportedly unwell. This is not to take away anything from Ishita's game. The 17-year-old, trained by Sandeep Gupta at the Stag Academy (Delhi), played to her strengths: being consistent.
The fact that Ishita plays with a long pimpled rubber on her backhand enabled her to upset Prapti’s momentum of shot-making quite a bit. “This is my first win this year in zonals as I have never crossed the quarterfinals in previous three National-ranking tournaments. I never expected to come this far. I will focus on the next tournament—the West Zone (from October 5 to 11)-- and try to do well there,” she said.
On the concluding day on Sunday, the finals of sub-junior and cadet categories will be played.
Junior Boys: Final: Albuquerque Raegan (Mah) bt Manush Shah (Guj) 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8; Semifinals: Raegan bt Payas Jain (Del) 11-9, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9; Manush bt Yashansh Malik (Del) 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6.
Junior Girls: Final: Ishita Gupta (Del) bt Prapti Sen (WB) 11-3, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6; Semifinals: Prapti Sen bt Trisha Gogoi (Asm) 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-5; Ishita bt Anusha Kutumbale (MP) 7-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-5.
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