South Zone TT: Harmeet and Sreeja triumph

Payas and Yashaswini emerge under-19 champions in South Zone TT.

Harmeet Desai (pic) beat Manush Shah 11-9, 12-10, 6-11, 13-11, 11-7 to win the men’s singles title in the UTT-National ranking South Zone tournament on Thursday.   -  SS KUMAR/THE HINDU

For nearly two weeks in mid-December, Harmeet Desai did not touch his racquet, busy as he was with his wedding preparations.

The mini-break has done him a lot of good as the 28-year-old from Gujarat tamed his younger State-mate Manush Shah 11-9, 12-10, 6-11, 13-11, 11-7 to bag the men’s singles title in the UTT-National-ranking South Zone table tennis tournament here on Thursday.

Earlier, Sreeja Akula bided her time, slowed down the pace of the game and forced an attacking player such as Swastika Ghosh play to her style.

The 23-year-old made a comeback from 1-3 down to win in seven games, 5-11, 11-7, 7-11, 17-19, 11-4, 11-6, 12-10 to bag her first title of the season.

Much was expected from Manush who many thought would push Harmeet onto the backfoot with his aggression. But it was not to be. Eight years his senior, Harmeet controlled the pace of the game, defended well, and put more balls on the table forcing Manush to go for the ‘kill’ and end up making mistakes.

Delhi’s Payas Jain and Yashaswini Ghorphade of Karnataka clinched the youth under-19 boys’ and girls’ titles.

“I never thought I would win this — my first this season — because I haven’t practised much. I made fewer errors. Manush was high on confidence. So I changed the pace and trajectory and introduced more spin,” Harmeet told Sportstar.

Sreeja said, after employing the services of a psychologist recently her mind has become calmer.

“Gayathri madam of Lakshya Sports helped me relax. After losing early — pre-quarters in North Zone (Panchkula) and quarters in Dehradun — this victory has given me confidence,” she said.

The results:

Men: Final: Harmeet Desai (Guj) bt Manush Shah (Guj) 11-9, 12-10, 6-11, 13-11, 11-7; Semifinals: Manush bt Anirban Ghosh (RSPB) 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 14-12, 11-7; Harmeet bt Shubh Goel (Del) 11-5, 11-6, 11-3, 8-11, 11-7.

Women: Final: Sreeja Akula (RBI) bt Swastika Ghosh (AAI) 5-11, 11-7, 7-11, 17-19, 11-4, 11-6, 12-10; Semifinals: Swastika bt Ayhika Mukherjee (RBI) 9-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-5, 3-11, 11-2; Sreeja bt Diya Chitale (Mah) 11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-9, 4-11, 13-11.

Youth Boys u-19: Final: Payas Jain (Del) bt Yashansh Malik (Del) 12-10, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5.

Youth Girls u-19: Final: Yashaswini Ghorphade (Kar) bt Pritha Vartikar (Mah) 10-12, 11-9, 13-11, 12-10, 11-4.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :