Ultimate Table Tennis 2018: Youngsters Manav Thakkar and Ayhika Mukherjee steal the show as Mavericks crush Challengers
Indian youngsters, Manav Thakkar and Ayhika Mukherjee stole the show with some gutsy performances as RP-SG Mavericks crushed 2017 Empowerji Challengers 5-2 in the second tie at the Balewadi Indoor Stadium in Pune on Friday. The win awarded the Mavericks 13 points while Challengers had to be content with just 8.
21-year-old Mukherjee, who is placed at 124th in the world rankings, displayed her exceptional fighting skills in her women’s singles contest with World No. 20 Lee Ho Ching of the Challengers. A slow start and the huge gulf in the rankings did not bother the Indian, who came back from a game down to edge the Hong Kong ace 4-11, 11-2, 11-5.
It was the turn of the 18-year-old Manav Vikash Thakkar to dazzle in the next rubber. The World No. 243, who has established himself as one of the brightest talents, showcased his skills against the 33rd ranked Kou Lei of Ukraine.
He won the match 11-4, 11-7, 10-11 to bring the overall team score to 3-3.
The mixed doubles duo of Harmeet Desai and Doo Hoi Kem then teamed up to bring back the lead to the Mavericks. They beat the Challengers pair of Lee Ho Ching and Arjun Ghosh 11-9, 11-8, 10-11.
In a blockbuster battle of top-20 men, World No. 20 Mattias Karlsson caused a mini upset when he got the better of the 12th ranked Simon Gauzy 8-11, 11-7, 11-7. That win allowed the Mavericks to build on their lead further.
In the second women’s singles, World No. 13 Doo Hoi Kem imposed her authority over the Challengers’ Goergina Pota. The Hungarian was completely outplayed by her higher-ranked rival in the first game, although she gave a better account of herself later on.
Mavericks’ Doo grabbed the 11-1, 11-8, 6-11 win to increase the gap between the two teams further.
In the final men’s singles rubber, the Mavericks’ Harmeet Desai found the 40th ranked Tiago Apolonia an insurmountable barrier in the end as he went down 11-8, 6-11, 10-11 in a tight contest.
Sabine Winter then completed the job for the Mavericks with a commanding 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 win over the Challengers’ Divya Chandrasekhar Deshpande.