The second day of the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis belonged to Indians as Ayhika Mukherjee and Manav Thakkar stunned top paddlers during the tie between RP-SG Mavericks and Empowerji Challengers.
While Mukherjee set the tone for the Mavericks' victory by surprising, World No. 20, Lee Ho Ching of Hong Kong in the opening rubber of the tie, Thakkar rose to the billing of Indian table tennis' rising star by overpowering Chinese-born Ukrainian Kou Lei, the World No. 33, to pull things back for Challengers.
Towards the end of the evening, while Harmeet Desai stretched Tiago Apolonia to the fullest, local girl Divya Deshpande, making her UTT debut, gave plenty of moments to the fans at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex, despite going down to seasoned Sabine Winter. Mavericks, though, had little trouble in winning the tie, with Winter sealing the deal for her team, after winning the opening game against Deshpande.
Mukherjee used her long pimples to strangle Ching despite losing the opening game. Besides the clever use of her pimpled rubber, Mukherjee minimised unforced errors to keep her fancied opponent under pressure. Thakkar, then, registered the victory of his career by just not letting Lei get into any rhythm. In fact, Thakkar was on the verge of making a clean sweep, but Lei showed his class with a four-point streak, including the golden point, after trailing 10-7 in the last game.
RP-SG Mavericks bt Empowerji Challengers 13-8 (Ayhika Mukherjee bt Lee Ho Ching 2-1 (4-11, 11-2, 11-5); Kou Lei lost to Manav Thakkar 1-2 (4-11, 7-11, 11-10); Harmeet Desai & Doo Hoi Kem bt Arjun Ghosh & Lee Ho Ching 2-1 (11-9, 11-8, 10-11); Mattias Karlsson bt Simon Gauzy 2-1 (8-11, 11-7, 11-7); Doo Hoi Kem bt Georgina Pota 2-1 (11-1, 11-8, 6-11); Harmeet Desai lost to Tiago Apolonia 1-2 (11-8, 6-11, 10-11); Sabine Winter bt Divya Deshpande 3-0 (11-8, 11-9, 11-5).
Saturday's fixtures: Warriors T.T.C. vs Dabang Smashers T.T.C., 7 pm.
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