Aish­warya up­sets No 2; keeps UP’s flag fly­ing high

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - SPORT - HT Cor­re­spon­dent ■ sport­sluc­know@gmail.com

Ace pad­dler Aish­warya Pathak is the won­der girl of Ut­tar Pradesh. On Fri­day, she caused the sec­ond big­gest up­set at the North Zone Na­tional Rank­ing Ta­ble Ten­nis Cham­pi­onship, out­play­ing sec­ond seed Payal Borha of Ma­ha­rash­tra to en­ter the ju­nior girls quar­ter­fi­nals at Agra,

En­er­getic Aish­warya, who hails from Gau­tam Budh Na­gar, didn’t show any mercy while script­ing a facile 11-6, 11-4, 11-2 win over Payal, who hap­pens to be the cur­rent West Zone’s cham­pion, at the Eklavya sta­dium.

Payal, nor­mally an at­tack­ing pad­dler sur­pris­ingly couldn’t play her shots as well and was mak­ing far too many er­rors at the net. But credit must be given to Aish­warya who, after tak­ing con­trol of the first game, sim­ply ran over her ri­val in dou­ble quick time.

Now on Satur­day, Aish­warya would be tak­ing on another Ma­ha­rash­tra girl Mansi Chiplunkar, who ac­counted for sev­enth seed Maria Rony of Ker­ala, also in straight games of 11-9, 11-9, 11-7.

But the big­gest up­set of the cat­e­gory was the exit of top-seed Shruti Am­rute of Ma­ha­rash­tra. Shruti lost to Te­len­gana’s Varuni Jaiswal, a qual­i­fier, 14-12, 11-6, 11-9, with­out a fight.

Oth­ers that made it to the lasteight stages in­cluded Te­len­gana’s Sreeja Akula, AAI’s Ay­hika Mukher­jee, Ma­ha­rash­tra’s Ru­tuja Khop­kar, who de­feated Ker­ala’s fourth seed Sereha Ja­cob 11-6, 6-11, 14-12, 11-7 and TN’s Se­le­nadeepthi Sel­vaku­mar who won a tough bat­tle against Delhi’s Riti Shankar and eighth seed 11-9, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7.

In ju­nior boys, Dena Bank’s Peeyush Prasad who first up­set sev­enth-seed Ayush Tayal of Haryana 3-2 in the pre-quar­ter­fi­nals moved a step fur­ther for a quar­ter­fi­nal meet­ing with No 2 seed Anir­ban Ghosh. The lat­ter downed Birdie Bora of PSPBA in a tense en­counter which saw four of the five games be­ing ex­tended. Ghosh won 7-11, 14-12, 12-14, 12-10, 14-12. Top-seed Utkarsh Gupta had an easy prey in PSPBA’s Anukram Jain as the Delhi boy won 14-12, 9-11, 11-4, 11-4.

The other pre-quar­ter­fi­nal win­ners in­cluded West Ben­gal’s Jeet Chan­dra, who beat Air In­dia’s Sid­desh Pande 3-1, PSPBA’s Lal­rin Puia, who downed Te­len­gana’s Snehit Su­rava­jjula, San­ish Am­bekar of Ma­ha­rash­tra who won over Suresh Nikhil of Tamil Nadu 3-1 along with Manav Thakkar of PSPBA and Ma­ha­rash­tra’s Ravin­dra Kotiyan. Th­jakkar beat Shivam Shri­vas­tava 3-0 while Kotiyan beat Lal­hunhlua of PSPBA by the same ver­dict.

Ear­lier, UP’s Goutam Dru­vansh, after putting up a great fight lost 2-3 to Snehit Su­rava­jjula in the first round. The lone main draw en­trant for the hosts played well tak­ing two games off his Te­len­gana ri­val but wilted un­der pres­sure 10-12, 11-8, 8-11, 13-11, 9-11 in front of the home crowd.

In fact, the Te­len­gana boy had the up­per hand when he won the ex­tended first set 12-10. Ex­e­cut­ing his fore­hand well the fleet-footed UP boy showed a lot of prom­ise to be­gin with as he gave some tor­rid mo­ments to Snehit. How­ever, the lat­ter clinched the set only to lose badly in the sec­ond.

The trend con­tin­ued as Goutam won a dif­fi­cult fourth set 13-11 after a cou­ple of deuces but could not with­stand the strain of de­cider as he folded by a min­i­mal point. Top-seed Utkarsh Gupta, the East Zone ti­tlist at Dur­ga­pur, sec­ond-seed Anir­ban Ghosh sailed into the pre-quarters but won in straight games against Shau­rya Ped­nekar of Ma­ha­rash­tra and sec­ond-seed Anir­ban Ghosh con­ceded a game be­fore re­group­ing him­self to beat Harshavardhan La­hoti of Te­len­gana 15-17, 11-4, 11-5, 11-3.

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