World Junior TT: Ronit Bhanja goes down fighting

Ronit Bhanja had fire in the belly, but fell at the threshold to Chi-Chien Lai 11-5, 6-11, 10-12, 7-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-13 in the boys quarterfinals of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Junior Circuit Finals.

Rohit Bhanja

Rohit Bhanja put up a stiff resistance in the quarterfinals on Friday.   -  Special Arrangement

Ronit Bhanja had fire in the belly, but fell at the threshold to Chi-Chien Lai 11-5, 6-11, 10-12, 7-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-13 in the boys quarterfinals of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Junior Circuit Finals at the Abhay Prashal indoor stadium on Friday.

Ranked 13th, the Barrackpore native even held a match point, before succumbing to the sixth seed.

In several long range exchanges of fire, Bhanja matched Lai smash for smash, lob for lob. The Bengal battler pulled off some incredible retrieves, some from impossible angles. The fast forehand loops fired far from the table showcased the aggressive intent of each player.

Three games down, Bhanja pulled one back in the fifth. Not quite able to match his Taiwanese rival’s firepower, Bhanja slackened speed in the sixth, which paid rich dividends. A dominating Lai changed tack in the decider, forcing and pepping up the pace to prevail in the end.

Alexandru Manole of Romania pulled the rug from under the feet of boys favourite Darko Jorgic 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9. With variations in his short, side-spin serves, Manole pounced on the top gun’s feeble returns, the backhand flick invariably the put-away shot.

High-toss serves helped Wai Yam Minnie Soo recoup from losses in the opening and third games against Taiwan’s Pei-Ling Su. If the latter’s receiving of serve was weak at times, Su more than made up with fierce third and fifth ball attacks. More often than not, short side-spin serves landed the spoils for the top seed.

Andreea Dragoman won by the skin of her teeth against Amy Wang. After the duo was tied 3-3, the fourth seed trailed in the decider but much to her relief, prevailed in the extended game.

Archana Kamat of India failed to make the quarterfinals aWith two wins under her belt on Thursday, Archana lost her third game 0-4 to Amy Wang of the USA on Friday. In a three-way tie for the second place, the Indian was edged out by 0.66 points.

The results (quarterfinals):

Boys: Alexandru Manole (Rom) bt Darko Jorgic (Slo) 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, Chi-Chiean Lai (Tai) bt Ronit Bhanja (Ind) 5-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-7, 9-11, 3-11, 13-11.

Girls: Wai Yam Minnie Soo (HK) bt Pei-Ling Su (Tai) 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9; Andreea Dragoman (Rom) bt Amy Wang (USA) 10-12, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 3-11, 11-9, 14-12; Sih-Han Fang (Tai) bt Kana Takeuchi (Jap) 11-4, 7-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-6; Yuko Kato (Jap) bt Tze Wing Mak (HK) 12-10, 6-11, 14-12, 5-11, 11-9, 11-7.