Shillong, April 24: Several top seeds were knocked out of the 83rd Senior National Table Tennis Championship at the SAI Indoor Stadium here today, chief among them Manika Batra.
The reigning champion exited after losing her Round of 32 match to Ayhika Mukherjee (featured photo) of RBI.
Ayhika was leading 3 games to 2 and was two points away from winning the match in the next game (it is best of 7). But Manika, of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board, fought back to make it 3-3 by winning that game 13 points to 11.
Manika has been behind in previous matches but her mental strength was always sound and she always found a way to fight back. This time, however, it was Ayhika who held her nerve. Cool and calm, she stormed to victory in the seventh game 11-3 and spontaneously threw her arms in the air on winning match point after largely holding in her emotions throughout.
Meanwhile, the pair of Akash Pal and Prapti Sen of Railways Sports Promotion Board won the final of the mixed doubles 3-1 (best of five) against the Haryana team of Soumyajit Ghosh and Suhana Saini.
Old warhorse and five-time national champion Mouma Das proved age is just a number. Picking up a racquet after a three-year hiatus, the 38-year-old defeated teenager and second-seeded Diya Chitale 4-3 in the women’s singles to enter the quarterfinals.
Eighth seed Prapti Sen also failed to move up. Earlier, promising Archana Kamath lost to a tenacious Yashini Sivashankar of Tamil Nadu, losing 4-3 in the Round of 32.
The day also saw some men’s seeds also fall by the wayside. Prominent among them included fourth seed Harmeet Desai, eighth seed SFR Snehit, 10th seed Sudhanshu Grover, 11th seed Ronit Bhanja, 12th seed Anthony Amalraj and 15th seed Deepit Patil.
Although Meghalaya did not feature in the main rounds, a Meghalaya lad playing for Delhi, Aadarsh Om Chhetri was in action against top men’s player G Sathiyan but lost 4-0 in the Round of 32.
Chhetri, originally of Laimer, Upper Shillong, lived in Meghalaya until Class 4 before moving away to further his table tennis dreams and now represents Delhi.
(Meghalaya Table Tennis Association photos)