Senior National Table Tennis Championships 2020: Harmeet Desai claims first-ever title, Sutirtha Mukherjee bags second
What's the story?
Harmeet Desai got his hands on his maiden Senior Nationals title after defeating Manav Thakkar 4-3 in a closely-contested Men's Singles final of the UTT 81st National Table Tennis Championships. Meanwhile, Sutirtha Mukherjee of Haryana also claimed the national crown after decimating Krittwika Sinha Roy 4-0 in the Women's Singles final.
After getting a bye in the First Round, Harmeet defeated Asif Haque and Vasanth Philips in the second and third round, respectively. The ace Indian paddler played a thrilling match against Akash Pal in the Round of 16 and prevailed 4-3. Desai then defeated Sanil Shetty 4-3 in the quarterfinal before locking horns with Soumyajit Ghosh in the semis.
The Surat-born player outclassed Haryana's Ghosh and thrashed him 11-9, 11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 14-12 [4-1 overall] in the semifinal to set his summit clash with Manav Thakkar, who, on the other hand, had defeated India's Number 1 Sathiyan Gnanasekaran in the other semifinal.
Over in the Women's Singles category, Sutirtha Mukherjee also started out with a Bye in the first round. She defeated Garima Goyal 3-1 in 2nd round before annihilating Pausali Jati in the 3rd Round. Haryana's Sutirtha registered another 4-0 win in the Round of 16 by defeating Madhurika Patkar and continued her unbeaten streak by defeating RSPB's Kaushani Nath in the quarterfinal. A 4-1 win over Ayhika Mukherjee in the semifinal enabled Sutirtha to set up the final match against Krittwika.
The heart of the matter
Sixth-seed Harmeet Desai had to dig deep into his reserves to get the better of young Manav Thakkar in the final. The 26-year-old eventually won 11-4, 11-13, 14-12, 9-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5 in a sensational duel against Manav in the all-Surati final to claim the gold medal. Manav, who was playing his first-ever Senior national final, had to settle for the Silver medal.
A Commonwealth Games gold medallist with the Men's team, Harmeet's win at the 81st National Table Tennis Championships ended his seven-year-long wait for the gold medal at Senior Nationals. The ace paddler had earlier made it to the finals in 2013.
Impeccable shot selection, timely defensive blocks, and maintaining cool in the deciding game against Manav helped Harmeet clinch his maiden title. His game has certainly improved over the past 12 months. An elated Harmeet attributed his success to the training he received at the Axton Centre in Germany.
The Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) paddler has pocketed a handsome sum of Rs. 2.5 lakh for his stellar display in the tournament.
Over in Women's Singles, Sutirtha Mukherjee laid hands on her second Senior Nationals crown after thrashing PSPB's Krittwika Sinha Roy 11-4, 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 in the final. This was her second title, having won the first in 2017 in Ranchi. The 24-year-old also got an attractive prize money of Rs. 1.65 lakh for her splendid efforts.
During the final, Sutirtha played to her strengths and Roy had no answer to her lethal backhands.
Meanwhile, in the Men's Doubles category, Jubin Kumar and Soumyajit Ghosh defeated Gujarat's Manush Shah and Ishaan Hingorani 3-1 in the final to clinch the Gold medal. The Women's Doubles combine of Sutirtha Mukherjee and Riti Shankar beat Bengal A's Surbhi Patwari and Poymantee Baisya in the summit clash.
Sutirtha added another gold medal in the Team event. Besides these three golds, Mukherjee also won a Silver along with her Mixed Doubles partner Sourav Saha, completing an extremely memorable Nationals for the paddler. Bengal’s Ronit Bhanja and Mousumi Paul bagged the gold in the category after defeating the Haryana duo 3-1 in the final.
Harmeet Desai, Sutirtha Mukherjee and all the other medallists will be looking to bask in the glory of their newfound success at the Senior Nationals before getting back to training for other events.Published 03 Feb 2020, 17:23 IST