With the top 16-seeded players being given a bye, the men's first round matches of the LIC-IOC South Zone National-ranking table tennis tournament here on Thursday held less significance as far as upsets were concerned.
However, there were quite a few tough matches that went the distance. One that caught the eye was the battle between E. Prabhakaran (Chennai) and Sanjay Paranjape (Delhi). The latter won the battle of wits (4-3) 11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 11-3, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7.
Earlier, the lone defensive player in the tournament, Lalrin Puia of Mizoram had an easy outing with a 11-4, 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 win over Shankab Baiswal of Assam.
Prabhakaran fought back well to equalise at 2-games each. Sanjay played a consistent game attacking Prabhakaran's backhand to win quite a few points early, and it turned out to be a neck-and-neck fifth game.
Having a game point at 10-9, Prabhakaran dumped a backhand into the net, but won the next two points to pocket the fifth game. But his game deserted him in the sixth and seventh games. He made numerous unforced errors while receiving Sanjay's serve and his backhand came a cropper.
Five-time national champion Mouma Das qualified for the main draw, with a 11-6, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 win over B. Nagasravani of Andhra Pradesh in the women's preliminary round match; a situation Mouma wouldn't have faced in the last three years at least.
After having to begin her campaign through qualification, the 33-year-old had to play the preliminary round to book her main draw berth, her loss to Frenaz Chipia of AAI in the qualification round the other day putting her in such a situation.
Mouma was one among the 20 players as group runners-up and she had to play the preliminary round to get into the main draw which will be of 64 players.
Meanwhile, 66 women paddlers qualified from 33 groups and 86 men from 43 groups. The system of two qualifiers making the main draw cut from each group was introduced by TTFI from this year in order to give the second-finishing players a better competition and an additional match.
Men firs round:
Sanmay Paranjape (Del) bt E. Prabhakaran (RSPB) 11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 11-13, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7; Abhinav Belwal(UP) bt Shivjit Singh Lamba (Del) 11-5, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6; Parth Varmani (Del) bt Sujay Chaturvedi (MP) 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-3, 11-6; M. Subash (IA&AD) bt Mustafa Hussain (Asm) 11-5, 11-5, 11-7, 11-4; Siddhesh Pande (Mah ‘A’) bt Amit Chavan (AFSCB) 11-2, 11-2, 11-6, 11-7; Vighney Reddy (RBI) bt Hirakjyoti Pushilal (RSPB) 12-10, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-13, 11-9; Lalrin Puia (Miz) bt Shankab Baruah (Asm) 11-4, 11-4, 11-5, 11-8.
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