Seldom do the winning and the losing outfit in a sporting contest end up with smiles on their face. Thanks to the unique format of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), the same was on display at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex on Tuesday night.
Bengaluru Smashers overcame Goa Challengers 9-6 in both the teams’ last league game. While Smashers’ win means it has to rely on the outcome of the last league clash between U Mumba TT and Puneri Paltan TT to qualify for the semifinals, Challengers have been assured of a place in the last four.
Despite Goa’s joy, the night belonged to Bengaluru Smashers.
While each one of the five Bengaluru paddlers who featured in the tie played their part, Manika Batra and Jeet Chandra stood out. Manika registered a clean sweep against T. Reeth Rishya, her training partner at Hyderabad, displaying her command over forehand winners.
Incidentally, Reeth’s husband - Sanil Shetty, the only Bengaluru Smashers player who didn’t feature in the tie - was cheering for Manika as she stretched the lead to 5--1 after Kirill Gerassimenko overcame southpaw Alvaro Robles in the opening tie.
When Manika and Gerassimenko lost the mixed doubles against Reeth and Harmeet Desai, Jeet produced a stunner against Harmeet. Having lost badly against Harmeet, India’s highest-ranked paddler at No. 62 in Tuesday’s update, in a WTT event in Lagos last month, a bespectacled Jeet gave his team a ray of hope.
Riding high on his backhand topspins, Jeet, the World No. 237, surprised Harmeet. When Harmeet won the last game on the golden point, Goa knew that Suthasini Sawettabut had to win at least two games versus Natalia Bajor.
And the Thai girl, ranked No. 39 in the world, made a strong comeback against her Polish opponent in an entertaining duel dominated by rallies on both flanks.
Wednesday’s fixture: Chennai Lions vs Dabang Delhi TTC (7.30pm)
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