National championship: Zeel wins a thriller to meet Mahak in final

Despite losing the first set 4-6 and going through passages of inconsistency, Zeel Desai managed to qualify for the final by winning the final set tie-breaker.

Zeel Desai saved a match point against Bhuvana Kalva before beating her 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(0).   -  KAMESH SRINIVASAN

Zeel Desai, the country's best junior,  gave another glimpse of her ever strengthening game as she survived a match point to beat Bhuvana Kalva 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(0) in the women’s semifinals of the Fenesta National tennis championship at the DLTA Complex here on Friday.

The men’s top seed Suraj Prabodh overcame spells of tentative play to be at his best in the third set to beat the crafty and consistent Manish Sureshkumar. Dalwinder Singh, with his explosive game, outplayed second seed Haadin Bava.

Incidentally, it was a lot of joy for coach Milos Pavlovic of Serbia as both Dalwinder and Suraj train with him at the Harvest Academy in Jassowal.

The fine performance of the
men apart, it was the women who kept the attention of the spectators on the show court. For, it was the country’s two best girls Zeel and Mahak Jain who set up a title clash in the women’s event.

While the 18-year-old Zeel, who has already won an ITF women’s title at the expense of Mahak in Gwalior earlier this year, had to be at her best, Mahak was fluent in her semifinal against Tanisha Kashyap.

In fact, the 16-year-old Mahak, coached by Sajid Lodhi, has dropped only 18 games in winning her first four rounds.

Mahak had beaten Zeel in the ITF grade-2 junior final early this year, but has lost four matches to her including three finals.


Men (semifinals): Suraj Prabodh bt Manish Sureshkumar 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-2; Dalwinder Singh bt Haadin Bava 7-5, 6-0.

Doubles (final): Aryan Goveas & Haadin Bava beat Chandril Sood & Lakshit Sood 6-4, 6-4.

Women (semifinals): Zeel Desai beat Bhuvana Kalva 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(0); Mahak Jain beat Tanisha Kashyap 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles (final): Shweta Rana & Snehadevi Reddy beat Sai Dedeepya & Sara Yadav 6-3, 6-3.

Boys (semifinals):
Sacchitt Sharma beat Abhimanyu Vannem Reddy 6-2, 2-6, 7-5; Dhruv Sunish beat Siddhant Banthia 6-4, 6-3.

Doubles (final):
Siddhant Banthia & Megh Bhargav Patel beat Atharva Sharma & Dhruv Sunish 6-2, 1-6, 10-6.

Girls (semifinals): Akanksha Bhan bt Sathwika Sama 6-1, 3-6, 6-4; Vaidehi Chaudhari bt Tanisha Kashyap 7-6(4), 7-5.

Doubles (final): Tanisha Kashyap & Sravya Shivani beat  Akanksha Bhan & Vaidehi Chaudhari 6-3, 7-5.

Zeel went through spells of inconsistency after leading 4-1 in the first two sets. Coached by Todd Clark, Zeel showed the ability to rise to the occasion as she handled the tie-break like a top professional while Bhuvana rued the missed chances in the three-hour battle.

Bhuvana, who has also won an ITF women’s title beating Ankita Raina on the same court, saved a match point on her serve in the tenth game, but her erratic return cost her the match, after she held a match point in the twelfth game.

There was some consolation for Haadin Bava, who hits the ball on the rise with telling impact, as he won the men’s doubles title with Aryan Goveas. The two put on an entertaining fare against the Sood twins, the versatile Chandril and Lakshit, who have surprisingly won only the junior title in the national championship.

After her defeats in the semifinals of women’s and girls singles, the 15-year-old Tanisha Kashyap mustered enough energy for a successful partnership with Sravya Shivani for the girls doubles title. The duo beat the top seeds Akanksha Bhan and Vaidehi Chaudhari in straight sets.

In the junior boys section, the tall and strongly-built Sacchitt Sharma recovered from being down 3-5 in the decider to tame the athletic Abhimanyu Vannem Reddy. He will face Dhruv Sunish, who knocked out the best ranked junior in the country, Siddhant Banthia in straight sets.

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