Harmeet Desai, Sreeja Akula win titles at National Ranking Table Tennis Championships

A file photo of table tennis ace Harmeet Desai. (PC: Getty Images)
A file photo of table tennis ace Harmeet Desai. (PC: Getty Images)

Harmeet Desai defeated Manush Shah 4-1 (11-9, 12-10, 6-11, 13-11, 11-7) to win the men’s singles title at the UTT National Ranking Table Tennis Championships (South Zone) on Thursday.

Meanwhile, in women's singles, Sreeja Akula scored a come-from-behind 4-3 (5-11, 11-7, 7-11, 17-19, 11-4, 11-6, 12-10) victory over Swastika Ghosh to clinch the title in a show of character and determination.

This was her third title since winning two National Ranking Table Tennis Championship titles in 2019 (in Sonepat and Thane).

Harmeet Desai presents himself a wedding gift

The title was a perfect wedding gift for Harmeet Desai, who married fellow table tennis player Krittwika Sinha Roy last month. Desai showed good form, making steady progress throughout the championships.

Read: Reeth Rishya expresses elation after hard work leads to first pro-tour singles title

The Gujarat paddler rose to the occasion twice, first in the semi-finals and then in the final against his statemate, when the odds were stacked against him. In the end, it was rather easy for Desai, an India international, who has been deprived of a title in recent times.

Sreeja Akula sweats it out

But it wasn't all hunky-dory for Sreeja Akula. Trailing 1-3 against Swastika, the winner of the singles crown in the last edition at Dehradun, Akula employed her attacking forehand and clever long serves. Her patience paid rich dividends, especially in the decider, as she drew level after being down 4-8.

Sreeja Akula picked up four points on the trot to come on level terms and then won two points on her serve to go 10-8 up. However, Swastika equalized to put the match in the balance.

Serving short, Sreeja converted a weak return into a point and, anticipating another long serve, the RBI woman positioned herself a little off the table to smash it for the title.

Payas, Yashaswini win junior titles

Payas Jain of Delhi yet again proved his caliber, winning the youth boys U-19 title when he defeated Yashansh Malik 4-0 (12-10, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5). It was a clinical showing from the World Youth Table Tennis Championships bronze medalist.

Payas earlier beat Vishwa Deenadayalan of Tamil Nadu, the winner at Dehradun, in the semifinals.

In the youth girls U-19 final, Yashaswini Ghorphade hit the groove to take the title. With the Karnataka girl being very inconsistent of late, this was a welcome relief and a much-needed boost of confidence for the young table tennis star.

Yashaswini played well to outwit Maharashtra's Pritha Vartikar 4-1 (10-12, 11-9, 13-11, 12-10, 11-4), who had earlier toppled top seed Suhana Saini in the semi-finals.

Also read: Table tennis rankings: Manika Batra, Archana Kamath achieve best-ever World No. 10 spot

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee