Sharath powers Mavericks to thrilling win over Smashers

Local paddler Sharath Kamal was the star of the night as he rode the wave of the crowd to help claim five points for Mavericks.

Sharath Kamal exults during Maverick’s tie against Smashers on Thursday.   -  R. Ragu

RP-SG Mavericks and Dabang Smashers TTC bid goodbye to the Chennai crowd with a tie to remember in which the former clinched a 14-13 win here on Thursday. Local paddler Sharath Kamal was the star of the night as he rode the wave of the crowd to help claim five points for Mavericks.

Sharath helped his side overturn a 2-4 deficit by impressing in the mixed-doubles fixture. Later in the singles, against World No. 14 Marcos Freitas, Sharath put on a superb display to win 11-8, 11-9, 5-11.

Sharath got off to a flier against the Portuguese when his powerful forehands put him in an 8-4 lead. He overcame a few unforced errors to take the first game 11-8. The Indian worked Freitas to his strokes in both the long and short rallies. The tie and the stadium came alive in the second game, when Sharath threw away a 7-3 lead. At 9-9, Sharath prevailed in a tantalising rally, where his powerful forehands proved too much for Freitas as he forced his way to a 11-9 win. A pumped up Sharath played it up to his home support.

Sharath couldn’t see off the third game as too many errors crept into his game as Freitas capitalised to win 5-11. Sharath addressed that his side’s strongest suit is not matching the standards going into the New Delhi leg. “Our problem has been that we are strong on men's and on that front, we have not been doing well. Tiago (Apolonia) is yet to strike form and Stefan (Fegerl) is off-colour [he lost both his matches today]. I have done my bit [so far],” explained the World No. 43.

With the tie placed at 9-9, Germany’s Sabine Winter ran through Madhurika Patkar 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 to hand the Mavericks a 12-9 lead which it never squandered.

The evening started with Smashers’ G Sathiyan beating Austrian World No. 23 Stefan Fegerl 11-5, 11-9, 10-11. This was the youngster’s biggest win of his career in terms of profile. Marcos Freitas offered Smashers some hope with his 11-5, 11-5 10-11 win but Tetyana Bilenko’s failure to take all three games in her 8-11, 11-7, 11-10 win over Sofia Polcanova’s took ensured Mavericks clinched the tie. The crucial two-game wins by Bilenko gives Smashers a fighting chance to make it to the play-offs having played three ties in the tournament so far.

The UTT now moves on to New Delhi for its second leg with Falcons TTC sitting pretty with 50 points followed by the Smashers at 39 and Mavericks at 37.

RESULTS

RP-SG Mavericks beat Dabang Smashers TTC 14-13 (Stefan Fegerl lost to G. Sathiyan 5-11, 9-11, 11-10; Archana Girish Kamath lost to Tetyana Bilenko 11-10, 7-11, 8-11; Sharath Kamal Achanta/Sofia Polcanova beat Kim Song I/ G Sathiyan 11-5, 11-7, 11-5; Taigo Apolina lost to Kou Lei 3-11, 11-10, 11-10; Sabine Winter lost to Kim Song I 8-11,8-11, 11-9; Sharath Kamal bt. Marcos Freitas 11-8, 11-9, 5-11; Sabine Winter bt. Madhurika Patkar 11-9, 11-9, 11-6; Stefan Fegerl lost to Marcos Freitas 5-11, 5-11, 11-10; Sofia Polcanova lost to Tetyana Bilenko 11-8, 7-11, 10-11)