UTT: Challengers cuts short Falcon’s flight

In spite of the defeat, Falcons stayed atop the points table with 61 points, followed by Challengers (43), Smashers (39), Mavericks (37), Yoddhas (32) and United (31).

Falcons TTC Player Liam Pitchford in action during the UTT League Match at Tyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi on Friday.   -  R.V. Moorthy

Shaze Challengers cut short the flight of high-flying table-topper Falcons 16-11 as the league phase of the Ulitmate Table Tennis reached the Capital on Friday.

The proceedings, though watched by less than 200 spectators including Olympic gold winning shooter Abhinav Bindra, produced its share of excitement at the Thyagraj Sports Complex.

In spite of the defeat, Falcons stayed atop the points table with 61 points, followed by Challengers (43), Smashers (39), Mavericks (37), Yoddhas (32) and United (31).

Falcons, who did the catching up throughout the evening, owe it to its young British recruit Liam Pitchford for winning four out of six games in his two singles matches. Pitchford won the sixth match of the evening against Soumyajit Ghosh 6-11, 11-9, 11-3 to make it 9-9 and returned to overpower Andrej Gacina 11-7, 11-6, 6-11 to bridge the gap to 11-13 before the final women’s singles.

Needing just one game to emerge as the day’s winner in the tie-deciding encounter, Han Yin did the trick for Challengers by winning 11-10, 11-10, 11-10 against a previously-unbeaten Wu Yang. She quite remarkably won the ‘golden point’ in all three games.

In the opening game, Wu Yang saved four game-points after bouncing back from 6-10 but lost the ‘golden’ point when her backhand return sailed long.

These players, possessing a similar ‘chopping’ style, produced a match laced with long and frequent rallies, one of which went up to 50 shots!

As it turned out, in the second and third game, Han Yin saved four and two game-points respectively and closed the match when Wu Yang’s return went long.

Earlier, the Indians came a cropper in three other individual encounters. Sanil Shetty (Falcons), impressive so far in the competition, found Li Ping too tough to handle and surrendered without much of a fight. Similarly, Mouma Das (Challengers) proved a soft target for the defensive Wu Yang.

Shetty’s team-mate Priyadarshini Das expectedly surrendered three games to Han Ying, who represents Germany.

In fact, in the eventual analysis, like in most of the matches so far in the league, the games lost by the Indian players once again provided the decisive difference between the teams involved.

The results:
  • Shaze Challengers beat Falcons TTC 16-11 (Li Ping bt Sanil Shetty 11-7, 11-7, 11-5; Mouma Das lost to Wu Yang 4-11, 2-11, 7-11; Soumyajit Ghosh and Petrissa Solja bt Sanil Shetty and Lee Ho Ching 11-5, 11-7, 11-10; Li Ping lost to Par Gerell 4-11 (conceded); Petrissa Solja bt Lee Ho Ching 10-12, 11-8, 11-5; Soumyajit Ghosh lost to Liam Pitchford 11-6, 9-11, 3-11; Han Ying bt Priyadarshini Das 11-7, 11-4, 11-4, Andrej Gcaina lost to Liam Pitchford 7-11, 6-11, 11-6; Han Ying bt Wu Yang 11-10, 11-10, 11-10).

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