Falcons TTC gets off to a winning start

The first match of the inaugural edition of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league got off to an explosive start as India’s top player and local favourite Sharath Kamal of Falcons TTC took on world No. 41 Par Gerell of RP-SG Mavericks.

Falcons’ Sanil Shetty in action during an UTT match in Chennai on Thursday.   -  R. Ragu

 

The first match of the inaugural edition of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league got off to an explosive start as India’s top player and local favourite Sharath Kamal of RP-SG Mavericks took on world No. 41 Par Gerell of Falcons TTC. The first game between both the captains was tied at 5-5 but Gerell stole it away by claiming five consecutive points and won 11-6.

Kamal made a spirited comeback in the second game – which witnessed a lot more play-making – and won 11-8. An animated chat with coach Peter Engel could not help Kamal, and much like the first game, Gerell rode on a five-point streak to win the game 11-9 and with that, the match.

The next match-up saw 45th ranked Sabine Winter face 216th ranked Sutirtha Mukherjee, who hardly proved to be competition. Winter dominated the tie from the get go and won 11-8, 11-7, 11-6, in a largely one-sided affair.

The first mixed doubles match of the tournament was held between Lee Ho Ching and Sanil Shetty of Falcons TTC, who went up against Sharath Kamal and Sofia Polcanova of RP-SG Mavericks. True to its word, the tie was exciting but the Falcons pair lacked any real form of communication. After losing the first game, Kamal and Polcanova came back to win the second, but the spirited Falcons denied them any chance in the third game and raced to an 11-8, 8-11, 11-5 victory.

In an all overseas tie, Liam Pitchford faced Stefan Fegerl, in a match that provided many a scintillating rally. World No. 23 Fegerl won the first game with ease but Pitchford put up a brave fight in the following games. A tightly-contested second game saw both produce moments of magic but Fegerl prevailed to win 11-9. The third game saw him make a brilliant comeback from being 1-7 down to take it to 9-10, but the 59 ranked Pitchford got the consolatory win.

The fifth tie of the evening saw China's Wu Yang ease past Sabine Winter to an 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 victory, handing her side all three points from the match.

Up next was a fierce duel between Sanil Shetty and Tiago Apolonia, which was undoubtedly the match of the day. After being a game down, Sanil made a remarkable comeback and won the first Golden Point of the tournament, to clinch the second game 11-10. The youngster proved his mettle in the decider and won 11-8, pulling off a wonderful victory in a thrilling encounter. The win also earned him the CEAT UTT Best Indian Player of the tie award.

Continuing her dominating run, Wu Yang demolished 17-year-old Archana Kamath in yet another one-sided match. 13th ranked Yang won 11-2, 11-4, 11- 6, to take her team's score to 13, leaving the Falcons one game away from victory.

The penultimate tie of day one between Par Gerell and Tiago Apolonia was an interesting watch. After going down in the first, Gerell recovered to win the second game 11-9 and followed it up with an 11-3 win to seal the deal for his side.

Sofia Polcanova blanked Lee Ho Ching 11-9, 11-5, 11-10 in the last match and earned her team three valuable points, but it was too little too late, as the Falcons TTC won the first tie with a final score of 15 while the RP-SG Mavericks managed only 12.

 

SCORES

Par Gerrel vs Sharath Kamal: 11-6, 8-11, 11-9

Sutirtha Mukherjee vs Sabine Winter:  8-11, 7-11, 6-11

Lee Ho Ching and Sanil Shetty vs Sharath Kamal and Sofia Polcanova: 11-8, 8-11, 11-5

Liam Pitchford vs Stefan Fegerl: 6-11, 9-11, 11-9

Wu Yang vs Sabine Winter: 11-9, 11-6, 11-5

Sanil Shetty vs Tiago Apolonia: 4-11, 11-10, 11-8

Wu Yang vs Archana Kamath: 11-2, 11-4, 11- 6

Par Gerell vs Tiago Apolonia: 9-11, 11-9, 11-3
Lee Ho Ching vs Sofia Polcanova 9-11, 5-11, 10-11

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