Third-seed Nithyashree Mani of Tamil Nadu, with her supreme display of attacking game, defeated Risha Manchandani 4-1 to lift her trophy in the Youth Girls Under 19 singles in the 83rd Junior and Youth National Table Tennis Championships at the YMCA facilities.
The TTTA girl, who has a zonal title before today, laid her hands on the Championships trophy for the first time and took home Rs. 72,000 in prize money.
In the end, Nithyashree alone stood like a rock among the pile of seeds that withered away before the final. Nithayashree’s relentless attack brought her the desired results. Thanks to her scorching forehands, her opponents left searching for the ball more often than not. The Chennai Achievers’ ward had also shown remarkable improvement in blocking, making her a deserving title winner.
Taneesha Kotecha of Maharashtra, who also won her maiden Championships trophy, also earned Rs. 60,000 for her efforts. Taneesha, the best on view in the Under-17 category, finally justified her potential when she posted an emphatic 4-0 win in the final against Subhankrita Datta of the National Centre of Excellence (NCOE), Kolkata.
The Maharashtra girl had shown consistency over the years. Yet, a national title has eluded her. But today, she could not be denied that achievement. Despite losing her foray in the Under-19 section—she lost in the quarters—she kept her date with destiny and got crowned in style. The NCOE girl, who did everything right until the final, failed to repeat what she did in her earlier rounds.
Taneesha, attacking well, put the Kolkata girl in all sorts of trouble from the beginning, and she could never recover. Nevertheless, Shubankrita showed her gritty side in her maiden Nationals, and she can be proud of what she did here.
Two back-to-back seven-game affairs and, on both occasions, Subhankrita Datta of NCOE came out a clear winner. In contrast to her quarterfinals, the girl from the Centre was 2-3 down against third-seed Pritha Vartikar in the Under-17 semifinal. But she pulled it off first to level the score and saved two match points to win 15-13 in the decisive seventh game.
Pritha, who should have sealed her fate, somehow slowed down her game which paid rich dividends for the Kolkata girl, making her first appearance in the Nationals. Despite the struggle after an easy quarterfinal victory, Taneesha Kotecha stopped her lanky statemate, Jennifer Varghese, in her tracks with a 4-2 triumph in the other semifinal.
But Risha Manchandani and Nithyashree Mani, in the best form of their life, knocked the stuffing out of Munmun Kundu of West Bengal and Yashswini Ghorphade of Karnataka, respectively. The 4-0 wins they posted were testimony to the attacking posture they adopted this afternoon against their rivals.
If Risha unleashed her relentless assault against the Bengal paddler, Nithyashree never let the guard down. Nithyashree’s excellent counters proved Yashaswini’s nemesis.
None would have expected top-seed Suhana Saini to make her exit the way she did, first in the Under-17 singles and then in the Under-19. If her ouster in the first round yesterday evening was shocking, her exit in the Under-19 quarterfinals this morning must have baffled even the consistent Haryana paddler. Not in her elements, she became easy prey to Munmun Kundu. Probably, it may have something to do with playing in two sections, one after another.
But then, it has become a fashion of sorts these days among young paddlers, invariably pushed by their parents or the states. At times, both can be too demanding. The best example on offer today was Taneesha Kotecha of Maharashtra. She did well to enter the semifinals in the Under-17 category but lost (0-4) tamely to Yashashwini Ghorphade of Karnataka in the Under-19, without taking away the credit from the Karnataka paddler. She was too good and, unable to cope with her slow game, Taneesha withered.
Vartica Bharat of UP, who felled Suhana in the first round of the Under-17, went 0-4 down to Taneesha. But fourth-seed Jennifer Varghese beat statemate Shravani Sawant 4-1, while third-seed Pritha Vartikar blanked out Ditsa Roy of Bengal 4-0. However, the best quarterfinal in the section turned out to be between Subhankrita Datta of NCOE and Tamil Nadu’s Kavyashree Baskar. K
avyashree got the shock of her life—she was down 1-3—after levelling the score when the NCOE girl outwitted the second-seeded TTTA player in the decider. Before the exit of Suhana in the Under-19, fifth-seed Anargaya Manjunath of Karnataka, No. 4 seed Pritha Vartikar of Maharashtra, sixth-seed Radhapriya Goel of UP, besides Taneesha.
Nithyashree Mani of TTTA, hitting a nice rhythm, just gave a game to the UP girl before winning 4-1. The Tamil Nadu girl, who blocked and used the flanks well, used her lethal forehand to reap a rich harvest.
Youth Girls (U-17): Final: Taneesha Kotecha (Mah) bt Subhankrita Datta (NCOE) 11-6, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4.
Semifinals: Taneesha Kotecha bt Jennifer Varghese (Mah) 11-9, 4-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 12-10; Subhankrita Datta bt Pritha Vartikar (Mah) 13-11, 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-8, 15-13.
Quarterfinals: Taneesha Kotecha bt Vartica Bharat (UP) 11-5, 11-9, 11-4, 11-4; Jennifer Varghese bt Shravani Sawant (Mah) 11-2, 7-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-6; Pritha Vartikar bt Ditsa Roy (Ben) 11-3, 11-8, 13-11, 11-4; Subhankrita Datta bt Kavyashree Baskar (TTTA) 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 11-6, 5-11, 9-11, 11-8.
Junior Girls (U-19): Final: Nithyashree Mani (TTTA) bt Risha Mirchandani (Mah) 8-11, 11-7, 14-12, 11-3, 11-8.
Semifinals: Risha Mirchandani bt Munmun Kundu (Ben) 11-5, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9; Nithyashree mani bt Yashaswini Ghorpade (Kar) 11-4, 11-7, 11-9, 12-10.
Quarterfinals: Munmun Kundu bt Suhana Saini (Har) 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9; Risha Mirchandani bt Shriya Anand (TTTA) 11-6, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6; Nithyashree Mani bt Radhapriya Goel (UP) 11-5, 7-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-7; Yashaswini Ghorpade bt Taneesha Kotecha (Mah) 11-5, 11-9, 11-3, 11-5.