Alappuzha, February 27:
P.B. Abhinand’s ability to switch on when he needs to was on display as the Tamil Nadu boy came from 0-2 down to beat the boy from Petroleum Sports Promotion Board Academy (PSPBA) 4-2 to lift the glittering Youth Boys Under-15 trophy in the UTT 84th Inter-State Sub-Junior and Cadet Championships at N.C. John Memorial Arena of YMCA today.
After leading his side to the team trophy yesterday, Abhinand returned today to repeat the performance that brought him appreciation and his maiden National title. He has to his credit only a national ranking title, won at Mohali three seasons ago. The win was worth Rs. 38,500. Sarthak received half that amount for finishing runner-up.
Sarthak, hailing from Odisha and settled in Delhi, countered well and led 2-0 before Abhinand went about hitting at the first opportunity and finishing well. His flat scorchers, off the forehand, went unchallenged by the Academy boy. He did try hard, but Abhinand had not only levelled the score but went from strength to strength even after trailing initially.
Aditya Das from West Bengal held three game points but squandered them all in the fourth game and a realistic chance to challenge the dominance of Sahil Rawat from PSPB. He let Sahil inch his way up to deuce and claim the last two points to beat Aditya 4-1 in the Under-13 Boys final for the trophy.
Aditya has all the strokes in the book and can play as well away from the table as he can from close to the table. He also correctly read Sahil’s weak forehand and exploited it nicely to go 1-0 up. But the PSPB Academy boy proved too good when converting the crucial points on most occasions.
Perhaps, with experience Adiya should go places and the silver medal at his maiden Nationals will be the stepping stone for the West Bengal paddler.
In the U-15 semi-finals, Sarthak Arya of PSPBA held his nerves better to beat Assam’s Priyanuj Bhattacharyya 4-0 to enter the final. Priyanuj did everything right except clinching the crucial points after the deuce in the first three games. Sarthak, matching stroke for stroke, managed to pull it through.
But Bengal’s Punit Biswas stretched P.B. Abhinand full and lost steam in the decider. The Tamil Nadu boy, who controlled the match after going 3-1 up–won the third game on the fourth game point–became complacent twice in the fourth and the fifth games to leave the door open for Punit to hit back. Luckily for Abhinand, he realised his folly and emerged strong to take the decisive seventh game.
Assam pair triumphs
Priyanuj Bhattacharya and Divyaj Rajkhowa Roy from Assam defeated Punit Biswas and Rupam Sardar from West Bengal 3-1 to capture the Youth Boys Under-15 doubles title.
The Bengal duo took the first game on extended points but failed to sustain the momentum gained. The Assam boys went for the kill from the second game and quickly went 2-1 up. Punit and Rupam came closer and posed some challenges in the fourth game. But Priyanuj and Divyaj quelled them to win.
However, the Assam boys found it difficult in the semi-finals when they ran into Karnataka’s Siddhant Vasan and Ayush Kurumunji. Karnataka led 1-0 and should have wrapped it up 3-0. But they let the Assam boys come back when they won 13-11, 13-11 in the next two games, thanks to the absence of Karnataka’s team coach, Anshuman Roy. Maybe, the team coach’s presence on the bench could have given Siddhant and Ayush a definite edge.
PSPBA duo wins
Earlier, Sahil Rawat and Dhairya Rawat of the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board Academy (PSPBA) combined beautifully to beat West Bengal’s Aditya Das and Shrestho Chakraborty 3-0. The win earned the Academy boys their first title. Unfortunately, the expected resistance came in the second and third games of the final after the Bengal Boys lost their first game cheaply. But it was too little and too late.
Youth Boys Under-15 Singles: Final: P.B. Abhinand (TN) bt Sarthak Arya (PSPBA) 11-13, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6.
Semi-finals: Sarthak Arya bt Priyanuj Bhattacharyya (Asm) 15-13, 12-10, 12-10, 11-8; P.B. Abhinand bt Punit Biswas (WB) 5-11, 11-8, 16-14, 11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 11-5.
Quarterfinals: Priyanuj Bhattacharyya bt K. Segal Singh (Mani) 11-7, 11-5, 11-4; Sarthak Arya bt Rupam Sardar (WB) 11-9 11-9, 6-11, 11-7; Abhinand bt Divyaj Rajkhowa Roy (Asm) 11-7, 11-8, 15-13; Punit Biswas bt Udit Sachdev (Mah) 11-9, 11-5, 11-8.
Youth Boys Under-15 Doubles: Final: Priyanuj Bhattacharyya/Divyaj Roy (WB) bt Punit Biswas/Rupam Sardar 10-12, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9.s
Semi-finals: Priyanuj Bhattacharyya/Divyaj Roy bt Siddhant Vasan/Ayush Vasan (Mar) 8-11, 13-11, 13-11, 11-9; Punit Biswas/Rupam Sardar bt Umesh Kumar/PB Abhinand (TN0 11-9, 8-11, 11-4, 12-10.
Youth Boys Under-13 Singles: Final: Sahil Rawat (PSPBA) bt Aditya Das (WB) 13-15, 11-8, 11-4, 12-10, 14-12.
Semi-finals: Sahil Rawat bt Aarav Negi (Ukd) 11-4, 11-6, 11-7; Aditya Das bt Keshav Rao (Kar) 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 13-11.
Quarterfinals: Sahil Rawat bt Mayuresh Sawant (Mah) 11-2, 11-8, 11-7; Aarav Negi (Ukd) bt Shrestho Chakraborty (WB) 17-15, 18-16, 15-13; Keshav Shashank Rao (mar) bt Ritvik Gupta (J-K) 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8; Aditya Das bt Shouren Soman (Mah) 11-7, 12-10, 11-7.
Youth Boys Under-13 Doubles: Final: Sahil Rawat/Dhairya Rawat (PSPBA) bt Aditya Das/Shrestho Chakraborty (WB) 11-3, 11-9, 11-9.
Semi-finals: Sahil Rawat/Dhairya Rawat bt Akash Rajavel/V. Jinshnu Balaji (TN) 8-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-9; Aditya Das/Shrestho Chakraborty bt Vivaan Dave/S. Karmeghakannan (PTSPA) 11-4, 11-6, 9-11, 7-11, 15-13.