Shillong, April 19: The women’s squad of Tamil Nadu Table Tennis Association (TNTTA), one of the two teams from the state, toppled Haryana in the pre-quarterfinals, causing the biggest upset on Day 2 of the 83rd Senior National and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships at the SAI Indoor Stadium here today.
However, hosts Meghalaya were unable to progress to the knockouts in both the men’s and women’s team events. In fact, only Assam and Mizoram managed to get into the second round and only in the men’s competition.
The bronze winners of the Hyderabad edition held in 2020 proved no match to the mix of youth and experience that was on view as TNTTA blanked out the team from the north 3-0. Yashini Sivashankar, opening the campaign, got extended a bit in the first game. But she eventually won her tie against Riti Shankar to put her squad 1-0 up. Veteran Vidya Narasimhan overpowered Suhana Saini in the next rubber, winning it 3-1, and young Vedhalakshmi Karthikeyan outwitted Sanya Sehgal in straight games.
But it was not a cakewalk for the second team from the state. TTTA struggled a bit before overcoming Gujarat 3-1. In its win against Gujarat, Selenadeepthi Selvakumar shouldered the burden. She beat Kausha Bhairapure and Chipia Frenaz in the first and fourth singles. The third win came via Nithyashree Mani who accounted for Fatema Kadri in straight games. In their medal-round race, the Tamil Nadu outfits will clash with each other in the quarterfinals tomorrow.
Similarly, the match between Uttar Pradesh and Telangana almost went down to the wire but Radhapriya Goel of UP, with her wins in two singles, helped seal the fate of Telangana 3-1.
Meanwhile, PSPB men defeated Kerala 3-0, Delhi downed Maharashtra B 3-0, Maharashtra A accounted for Bengal B 3-0 and Telangana beat Karnataka 3-0. Four other pre-quarterfinals are still underway.
The draw, held in front of the players after 16 teams entered the knockout phase, turned out to be top-heavy stuff with trophy-holders PSPB and runners-up RSPB clashing as early as in the semifinals. Drawn in the top half, PSPB will take on Kerala in the pre-quarterfinals and most likely run into Haryana in the quarterfinals. Railways, on the other hand, have to contend with TNTTA in the first round and would have to meet either Karnataka or Telangana in the quarters. If RSPB do manage to cross the first two hurdles, they will cross swords with PSPB in the medal round.
However, there seems to be a balance in the bottom half. The teams in this half, including second-seeded Delhi, could face tough challenges from the first round itself. The Gujarat squad meets Uttar Pradesh in the first round, Bengal A and Assam, Maharashtra A and Bengal B and Delhi and Maharashtra B.
(Meghalaya Table Tennis Association photos. Featured photo is of Sharath Kamal of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board in action against Kerala)