UTT: Shaze Challengers clinch a thriller

The clash between Shaze Challengers and Dabang Smashers on day two of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league went right down to the wire, but the Challengers prevailed in a hard fought 15-12 victory.

Shaze Challengers’ Han Ying in action.   -  M. Vedhan.

The clash between Shaze Challengers and Dabang Smashers on day two of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league went right down to the wire, but the Challengers prevailed in a hard fought 15-12 victory. The Challengers were comfortably ahead 12-6, but World No. 19 Kim Song I's 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 drubbing of Mouma Das, along with No. 14 Marcos Freitas's 7-11, 11-6, 11-5 comeback victory over Li Ping brought the Smashers right back into the tie.

Dabang Smashers’ Tetyana Bilenko of Ukraine took on Olympic silver medallist Petrissa Solja of Shaze Challengers in the final match, with her side needing all three points to win. And, the German brought her experience to the table and sealed the victory for her side.

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the contest between the women's top seed Han Ying and Korea's Kim Song I, which was also the longest match of the evening. Both players portrayed their defensive style of play, but it was Song who drew first blood to win the first game 11-6.

World No. 9 Ying made a spectacular recovery to get the match back to level terms and effectively used her defensive game to race to a seven point lead. Not the one to back down, the 19th ranked Song came back in remarkable fashion with a seven point streak of her own, to take the game right down to the very last point at 10 all.

However, Ying proved her mettle when it mattered the most and won the tie 11-10.

Earlier in the day, World No. 14 Marcos Freitas faced India's No. 3 Soumyajit Ghosh in a thrilling encounter that set the tone for an exciting evening of fierce table tennis. Freitas combined a flurry of huge forehands combined with a steely defence, to take the first two games 11-3 and 11-6. Buoyed by the crowd, a resurgent Ghosh made a strong comeback to take the third game on the Golden Point and opened his team's account for the tie.

The second day witnessed a much higher quality of play as compared to the first, but there were murmurs that the 10 second service rule – which saw many a player being docked a point – was a little too harsh on the players.

Brief scores:

Shaze Challengers defeated Dabang Smashers 15-12: Marcos Freitas beat Soumyajit Ghosh 11-3, 11-6, 10-11; Madhurika Patkar lost to Han Ying 6-11, 4-11, 6-11; Petrissa Solja & Soumyait Ghosh beat Kou Lei & Madhurika Patkar 11-9, 11-8, 11-4; Kou Lei beat Andrej Gacina 11-9, 11-9, 9-11; Kim Song I lost to Han Ying 11-6, 9-11, 10-11; Amalraj Anthony lost to Andrej Gacina 11-10, 2-11, 9-11; Kim Song I beat Mouma Das 11-8, 11-8, 11-6; Marcos Freitas beat Li Ping 7-11, 11-6, 11-5 and Tetyana Bilenko lost to Petrissa Solja 5-11, 11-6, 10-11.

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