Shubh Goel could not have asked for a better outing than her most recent fixture in the UTT Table Tennis National Ranking Championships (South Zone) at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Puducherry on Wednesday.
The Delhi-based table tennis player entered the medal rounds of the men’s singles for the first time in his career. En route, Shubh Goel took down 15th seed Arjun Ghosh, who sent second seed Manav Thakkar packing earlier in the pre-quarterfinals.
Shubh Goel had no baggage on his shoulders and it was reflected in his free-flowing game against Arjun, who was more on the offensive. Except for the second game, in which Arjun looked set to stage a comeback, it was Shubh Goel all the way.
But Shubh's heroics weren't the only cause of upsets of the day. Top-seed Sanil Shetty bit the dust in the quarter-finals, losing to Gujarat table tennis player Manush Shah 4-3 (8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 13-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7).
The extended sixth game proved to be a game changer for Manush Shah, who prevailed 12-10. With his new-found confidence, the decider proved to be a mere formality for the Gujarat table tennis player.
Equally interesting was the match between fifth-seed table tennis player Anthony Amalraj and Anirban Ghosh, the 13th seed. Anirban, striking in great form, took the stuffing out of a tiring Amalraj to sail into the semi-finals.
Harmeet Desai, on the other hand, had no such worries. He disposed Jeet Chandra 4-1 (11-9, 11-13, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7).
Table tennis players Anannya, Reeth lose in last-eight
In the women's category, Anannya Basak is the one to look out for. The table tennis player is fast emerging as a great promise with her consistency in recent times.
Anannya, an unseeded table tennis player from Maharashtra, displayed a variety of strokes with fine execution to deal a big blow to top-seed Prapti Sen of RSPB in the pre-quarterfinals.
The RSPB table tennis player had no answer to Anannya's skills on the day and went down 1-4 (7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9). However, Anannya was eventually ousted in the quarter-finals losing 2-4 (7-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9) to AAI table tennis player Swastika Ghosh.
Second-seed Reeth Rishya was stretched the distance by Poymantee Baisya of Railways. Reeth Rishya, the runner-up at Dehradun, survived a scare, winning the match 4-3 (11-7, 9-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 14-12) in a tense extended decider, despite missing two match points.
However, the Tamil Nadu-based table tennis player ran out of steam in the quarter-finals, losing 4-2 (11-5, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 10-12, 11-7) to young table tennis player Sreeja Akula.