Ultimate Table Tennis 2018: Ayhika giant-killing act the highlight as Mavericks edge out Maharashtra in thriller
Ayhika Mukherjee’s giant-killing ways stood out as RP-SG Mavericks thwarted a gallant charge from Maharashtra United and eked out a narrow 11-10 victory in their CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) Powered by Kellogg’s clash, at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here on Sunday.
After Ayhika, Kou Lei and the mixed pair of captain Harmeet Desai and Doo Hoi Kem had won the first three matches to put Mavericks in a commanding 6-3 position, Maharashtra staged a brilliant rally through their foreign players to turn the tables and gain a 10-8 lead.
Kristian Karlsson, Elizabeta Samara and captain Joao Monteiro won their respective singles to ensure three victories in succession for Maharashtra. Romanian Samara’s shocking 3-0 (11-5, 11-10, 11-8) victory over World No. 13 Doo Hoi Kem was central to their turnaround.
However, German Sabine Winter tilted the scales in favour of the Mavericks by winning the last match of the day against Madhurika Patkar 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-10).
It was the most exciting tie of the tournament so far with nine golden points deciding the winners in nine games. Incidentally, the last point of the tie was decided by a golden point with Sabine’s smashing return clinching the issue.
The 21-year-old Ayhika, who had upset World No. 20 Lee Ho Ching of Hong Kong in Mavericks’ victory over Empowerji Challengers, shocked World No 56 Lily Zhang 2-1 (10-11, 11-5, 11-10). After losing the first game on a golden point, the Indian ranked 124 in the world, hustled her American rival with her serve to clinch the second game with ease. However, in the third, Zhang fought back to lead 6-4 only to find the Indian take the contest to the golden point and seal the match.
Ukranian Kou Lie quelled Anthony Amalraj’s challenge 2-1 ((10-11, 11-10, 11-5) for Mavericks’ second win and swelled their lead to 4-2 on points after the first two singles.
World No. 18 Kristian Karlsson began the turnaround for Maharashtra by defeating fellow Swede Kristian Karlsson (World No. 20) 2-1 (11-9, 11-6, 10-11) before World No. 19 Samara stepped up to upset Doo. In a tussle between captains, Mavericks’ Desai was edged out by Monteiro in a cliff-hanger 1-2 (11-10, 9-11, 10-11) before Sabine ensured Mavericks' victory.
RP-SG Mavericks bt Maharashtra United 11-10
Women’s singles: Ayhika Mukherjee bt Lily Zhang (USA) 2-1 (10-11, 11-5, 11-10)
Men’s’ singles: Kou Lei (Ukr) bt Anthony Amalraj 2-1 (10-11, 11-10, 11-5)
Mixed doubles: Harmeet Desai/ Doo Hoi Kem (HK) bt Anthony Amalraj/ Elizabeta Samara (Rom) 2-1 (11-5, 11-6, 5-11)
Men’s singles: Mattias Karlsson (Swe) lost to Kristian Karlsson (Swe) 1-2 (9-11, 6-11, 11-10)
Women’s singles: Doo Hoi Kem lost to Elizabeta Samara 0-3 (5-11, 10-11, 8-11)
Men’s singles: Harmeet Desai lost to Joao Monteiro (Por) 1-2 (11-10, 9-11, 10-11)
Women’s singles: Sabine Winter (Ger) bt Madhurika Patkar 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-10)