Indian paddlers win silver, bronze in Nigeria Open

Indian paddlers Ronit Bhanja, Abhishek Yadav and Sarthak Gandhi secured medals at the 2018 ITTF Challenge, Seamaster Nigeria Open.

Ronit Bhanja in action at the 2018 ITTF Challenge, Seamaster Nigeria Open.   -  Special Arrangement

Indian paddler Ronit Bhanja turned in a gritty performance to clinch a silver in the U-21 men's singles while Abhishek Yadav and Sarthak Gandhi bagged a bronze in the men's doubles at the 2018 ITTF Challenge, Seamaster Nigeria Open.

Ronit had it easy in the first round, beating Tobi Falana 3-0. He had to toil hard in the quarterfinals, though, with Italy’s Antonio Amato putting up a good fight. He lost the first set 10-12 but bounced back to clinch the second 11-3. Ronit lost the third set too but then switched gears to bag the last two for a well-deserved 3-2 victory and a place in the last four stage.

Riding on the momentum, Ronit towered over Mahmoud Helmy from Egypt for a comprehensive 3-0 win in the semifinals. However, Shaobo Wang of China, who had a virtually similar run to the finals, proved to be too strong, winning the final contest 3-0.

In the men's doubles open category, Abhishek Yadav and Sarthak Gandhi defeated the Egyptian pair of Helmy and Ziad Wael 3-1 in the first round. They faced another Egyptian hurdle in the quarterfinals against Khalid Assar and Mohamed El-Beiali who had defeated the Indian pair of Ronit Bhanja and Mudit Dani in the opening match, looming before them.

The match went down to the wire, with Abhishek and Sarthak eventually emerging triumphant with a 3-2 victory. The Indian pair put up a valiant fight in the semifinals against the French pair of Alexandre Robinot and Joe Seyfried but lost 9-11, 11-13, 6-11 to settle for the bronze medal.

In the women's doubles, the young Indian duo of Sreeja Akula and Mallika Bhandarkar progressed to the quarterfinals, defeating the local pair of Agnes Onoja and Alimot Ayinla in the first round. They, however, went down fighting 2-3 to the eventual winners from China, Chen Sun and Fenjie Qi.

It was a valiant effort though as Sreeja and Mallika won the first two sets 11-7, 11-9 before capitulating in the last three sets.

In the U-21 women's singles, Sreeja Akula and Maria Rony were ousted in the quarterfinals.