Harmeet Desai, the sixth seed, celebrated his selection for the Arjuna award in style on the fourth day of the UTT-South Zone National ranking table tennis championships at the Jimmy George indoor stadium here on Saturday. He stormed into the semifinals in men’s singles, defeating Subhajit Saha in straight games.
The Gujarat paddler, representing Petroleum Sports Promotion Board, has been in great nick in recent times, having played a crucial role in India’s title triumph at the Commonwealth Championships in Cuttack . He gave a good account of his attacking skills as he blanked the veteran Saha, who had defeated third seed Siddesh Pande in the pre-quarters.
Playing an attacking game right from the outset, Harmeet straightaway had his rival on the defensive and hardly gave him any chance. He won 11-8, 11-4, 12-10, 11-6.
He will now take on comeback man Soumyajit Ghosh, who too provided a tremendous show of strength and finesse in his win over the No. 2 seed Sudhanshu Grover (PSPB). As Harmeet, Ghosh did not lose a single game.
Ghosh, who is in Haryana colours here, won 12-10, 11-1, 11-4, 11-7 to set up what should be an interesting semifinal due on Sunday morning.
In the other half, fourth seeded Sanish Shetty had to employ his repertoire of shots to overcome fifth seeded Jeet Chandra 11-2, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8 to gain an entry to the semis where he will come across eighth seeded Sushmit Sriram (Tamil Nadu). Sriram, in his quarterfinal encounter, was stretched to the hilt by Anirban Ghosh (Railways) before winning 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 5-11, 11-9.
Sutirtha, Madhurika bow out
The mayhem in the women’s draw continued for a second straight day as top-seeded Sutirtha Mukherjee was shown the exit door by Senhora D’Souza in the quarters, the latter matching the fancied player’s aggression stroke for stroke before pulling it off at 11-7, 13-11, 10-12, 11-3, 9-11, 11-8.
No. 2 Madhurika Patkar was an early victim of the day as she was upset by young Diya Chitable in the morning pre-quarters, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7. However, running into the lone seeded player left in the competition, Ayhika Mukherjee in the quarters, Diya failed to make any impact as the seventh seed romped home comfortably at 11-6, 11-2, 11-5, 11-3.
Not far away, Selenadeepthi Selvakumar (Tamil Nadu), too, looked as if she was in for an easy win, getting to a 3-0 lead against Mousumi Paul (PSPB). But this was not be so as Mousumi battled hard through the next three games to take the match into the final game. The PSPB player led 6-3 at one stage before Selenadeepthi took a time out, which proved to be helpful for the latter as she regrouped herself before winning the marathon at 11-7, 11-4, 14-12, 5-11, 8-11, 10-12, 11-8.
The other quarterfinal saw Shruti Amrute defeat Anusha Kumtable 12-10, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9.
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