Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

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

- 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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