UTT: Maharashtra United downs RP-SG Mavericks to top league

Harmeet Desai, ranked 79, outhit world No. 23 Stefan Fegerl 11-6, 9-11, 11-6 to get a 2-1 lead for Maharashtra United.

“I’d studied his game thoroughly. Watched a lot of his videos,” said Harmeet about Stefan, against whom he was competing for the first time.   -  R Ragu

DHFL Maharashtra United topped the table with a 16-11 win over the RP-SG Mavericks in the Ultimate Table Tennis league. From the nadir of the table, with 23 points, the Mavericks need a quick revival to stay alive in the six-team league, of which four will progress to the semifinals.

Tuesday evening, like Monday, began with an Indian upsetting his higher ranked foreign opponent. Harmeet Desai, ranked 79, outhit world No. 23 Stefan Fegerl 11-6, 9-11, 11-6 to get a 2-1 lead for Maharashtra United.

The rallies, Stefan wanted to quickly close, but with his smashes and drives, he wasn’t clinical. The Austrian’s unforced errors, especially in the first and third games, were too much, despite hitting three more winners (5) than Harmeet.
 

From 2-5 down in the third game, Stefan clawed back to tally the score 6-6. But erring on two backhands - one hitting the net and the other soaring past the table - left the Austrian yawping agitatedly. Harmeet, unflinched, continued his attack to close the tie at 11-6.’

“I’d studied his game thoroughly. Watched a lot of his videos,” said Harmeet about Stefan, against whom he was competing for the first time. “I knew I had to attack from the start and I kept pushing him throughout the tie.”

“Harmeet’s victory,” Mavericks’ Sharath Kamal said, “gave Maharashtra United the momentum.” United won the next four matches, racing to a 3-12 lead till Sharath arrested the bleed with a spectacular 11-5, 11-6, 8-11 upset of world No. 8 Wong Chun Ting.

Buoyed by the constant cheer of a small-yet-raucous crowd, Sharath set out on a hitting spree against the 26-year-old Hongkonger. Of his 17 offensive winners, 35% were smashes.

“Of course, I had no chance defending against him,” said Sharath after his first victory over Wong in four meetings. In fact, he conceded that he had no chance against him. “I just wanted to win one game.”

But an emphatic win in the first game ignited the highest-ranked Indian to mete out more smashes, which Wong had a tough time defending.

“The longer the rallies go, I knew he had a good chance of winning them. So, I tried to close it out as soon as possible,” said Sharath.

Despite Sharath’s win, United still led 13-5. Germany’s Sabine Winter narrowed the gap to 8-13, reeling off three games against Krittwika Roy.

In a must-win match for the Mavericks, Wong downed Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia 11-8, 6-11, 11-9 to secure the tie for United.

Sofia Polcanova, in the last match of the night, against Fu Yu, scored two crucial points for the bottom-placed Mavericks.

The results:

RP-SG Mavericks lost to DHFL Maharashtra United 12-16 (Stefan Fegerl lost to Harmeet Desai 6-11, 11-9, 6-11; Archana Kamath lost to Fu Yu 3-11, 6-11, 11-9; Sharath Kamal & Sofia Polcanova lost to Harmeet & Liu Jia 11-10, 7-11, 10-11; Stefan Fegerl lost to Joao Monteiro 3-11, 4-11, 9-11; Sabine Winter lost to Liu Jia 9-11, 8-11, 10-11; Sharath Kamal bt Wong Chun Ting 11-5, 11-6, 8-11; Winter bt Krittwika Roy 11-8, 11-7, 11-4; Tiago Apolonia lost to Wong 8-11, 11-6, 9-11; Sofia bt Fu Yu 11-9, 7-11, 11-6).