TS' Snehit slays 3rd, 6th seeds to enter semifinals
SFR Snehit could not have asked for a better platform than the UTT 82nd National Table Tennis Championships to showcase his growing confidence
Panchkula: SFR Snehit could not have asked for a better platform than the UTT 82nd National Table Tennis Championships to showcase his growing confidence. The 20-year-old from Telangana first slayed defending champion Harmeet Desai 4-0 and then accounted for sixth-seed Sushmit Sriram 4-1 in the quarterfinals, at the Tau Devi Lal Indoor Stadium here today.
They were the result of his fitness, speed and power that he could add to his game. Besides, he had been seeing a psychologist to increase his mental strength. All of these, Snehit admitted after the match, have brought windfall gains to him. One could see that during the quarterfinals today. Down 0-1, he was looking for a turning point after managing to deuce. The umpire reversed a wrong call to award the point to Snehit that put him 11-10 up, and from there the Telangana boy took control.
Troubled with Sushmit's rare combination of rubbers—one side anti and the other, pimple—Snehit began in a measured way before slowing down the game to shift gears. Sushmit, who loves the ball coming to him, was not prepared as Snehit used the flanks and hit in the centre to unsettle his rival. But not once did he relent from attacking and using the backhand blocks with equal felicity. With a comfortable 3-1 lead, it was just a matter of time before he closed out the match. And it happened sooner than later as Sushimit committed several net errors and almost conceded the fifth game without making any real effort.
Earlier in the day, the third seed could not believe when he went down meekly, losing 0-4. After having beaten A. Sharath Kamal at the same venue in the North Zone championships in 2018, the Hyderabadi had acquired the giant-killer tag. Snehit had the game and tactics but lacked the maturity to sustain. But today he was spot on in both the knockout matches, packing his shots with power.
In other quarterfinal matches, top-seeded Sharath toyed with Anothny Amalraj to win 4-1, second seed G. Sathiyan dropped a game against Sanil Shetty for a similar result, and so did Manav Thakkar against Ronit Bhanja.
But it was disappointing that Bhanja failed to repeat his pre-quarterfinal performance. He beat Delhi's Sudhanshu Grover in an edge-of-the-seat thriller match. With the scores level 3-3, and Ronit training 8-10 the Delhi paddler seemed to have taken the decider. But from 10-all, the game got dragged on, Sudhanshu having an edge over his opponent with four match-points. But, in the end, on his second match-point, Ronit clinched it.
The start for top-seed Sharath Kamal was not ideal this morning, but he managed to put it across Sougata Sarkar of LIC 4-2. Second-seeded Sathiyan defeated Manush Shah, but not before the left-handed paddler from Gujarat gave a scare or two. Anthony Amalraj shunned the first-round hiccups and beat Soumyajit Ghosh 4-2, while fourth-seed and runner-up Manav Thakkar scored a quite 4-1 victory over Nitin Thiruvengadam of TNTTA. Seventh-seed Sanil Shetty overcame Sarthak Gandhi, a TTFI wildcard entrant, 4-2.
Quarterfinals: A. Sharath Kamal (PSPB) bt Anthony Amalraj (TTFI) 11-8, 11-3, 5-11 13-11, 11-2, Manav Thakkar (PSPB) bt Ronit Bhanja (Ben) 11-7, 12-10, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6, SFR Snehit bt Sushmit Sriram (TTFI) 8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-8, 11-3, G. Sathiyan bt Sanil Shetty (PSPB) 11-9, 11-9, 11-13, 11-8, 11-6.
Pre-Quarterfinals: A. Sharath Kamal bt Sougata Sarkar (LIC) 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5, Anothny Amalraj bt Soumyajit Ghosh (Har) 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5, Ronit Bhanja (Ben) bt Sudhanshu Grover (Del) 13-11, 7-11, 6-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 15-13, Manav Thakkar bt Nitin Thiruvengadam (TNTTA) 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-5, SFR Snehit bt Harmeet Desai (PSPB) 11-9, 11-7, 11-9, 11-5, Sushmit Sriram (TTFI) bt Arjun Ghosh (Ben) 6-11, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-9, Sanil Shetty bt Sarthak Gandhi (TTFI) 11-4, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7, G. Sathiyan bt Manush Shah (Guj) 11-8, 12-14, 11-9, 11-8, 13-11.