The day, certainly, belonged to M. Nithyashree of Tamil Nadu. The 14-year-old, seeded ninth, and a qualifier, rallied from being down by three games, to overcome West Bengal’s Munmun Kundu to win the next four at 4-11, 2-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 12-10, 15-13 in the LIC-IOC South Zone National-ranking table tennis tournament here on Tuesday.
Munmun was firing on all cylinders in the first three games, belting out forehand and backhand top-spin drives that evoked no response from the Chennai lass. When Nithyashree tried playing the short game, Munmun was quick to pounce on it with flicks.
To her misery, Nithyashree's serves were treated with disdain.
Egged on by coach Subin Kumar and a few players from the state, Nithyashree staged a fightback from the fourth game. Not expecting an outcome, she didn’t hesitate to attack. Her block was outstanding whenever Munmun was desperate to finish the point.
In fact, Munmun had three match points in the sixth game and one match point in the decider, but she failed to convert them. Nithyashree, on the other hand, had four match points in the decider, and she converted the last one.
“I am happy. I never thought I would win. All I wanted was to fight. This is my first-ever title at the national-level,” said Nithyashree.
Earlier, top-seeded Preyesh Suresh Raj of Tamil Nadu, supported by Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu and Medimix, maintained his superiority to win his second national-ranking title of the season, with a 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-5 win over Shantesh Mapsekar of Goa.
Sub-Junior Boys: Final: H. Jeho (PSPBA) bt Payas Jain (Del) 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4; Semifinals: Jeho bt Hrishikesh Malhotra (Mah) 11-1, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7; Payas bt Jayabrata Bhattcharjee (NB) 12-14, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6.
Sub-Junior Girls: Final: M. Nithyashree (TN) bt Munmun Kundu (WB) 4-11, 2-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 12-10, 15-13; Semi-finals: Nithyshree bt Tisha Kohli (Del) 11-4, 11-8, 11-4, 13-11, Munmu bt Mihika Rohira (Mah) 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9.
Cadet Boys: Final: Preyesh Suresh Raj (TN) bt Shantesh Mapsekar (Goa) 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-5; Semifinals: Preyesh bt Balamurugan (TN) 12-14, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4, Shantesh bt Amav Aggarwal (PSPBA) 11-7, 11-8, 11-9.
Cadet Girls: Final: Suhana Saini (Har) bt V. Nehal (TN) 11-5, 11-6, 11-1, 11-8; Semifinals: Suhana bt Arya Songadkar (Mah) 8-11, 11-9, 12-10, 9-11, 11-7; Nehal bt Vartica Bharti (UP) 11-6, 11-6, 11-7.
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