The procession that began yesterday evening with the exit of a couple of men seeds, including top-seeded Anthony Amalraj, continued on Wednesday in the 11 Sports National Ranking Table Tennis Championships (North) at the Gautam Buddha University hall here today.
When Abhimanyu Mitra of West Bengal packed off Amalraj 12-10, 11-13, 10-12, 12-10, 11-5, 7-11, 11-4 in the round of 32 yesterday, it came like a bolt in the blue. But what happened today only reconfirmed the trend as seventh and eight seeds Abhishek Yadav and Sourav Saha along with women No. 1 seed Pooja Sahasrabudhe, No. 4 Madhurika Patkar and No. 6 Archana Kamath, too, departed.
Meanwhile, the older legs of former national champions Mouma Das and Poulomi Ghatak failed to cooperate against the younger ones and faded before sunset.
Fortunately, however, the drift was arrested as No. 2 seed Sutirtha Mukherjee accounted for No. 7 Sreeja Akula in a most laboured way (4-3) to move into the women singles semi-finals as did third seed Manika Batra who overcame fifth seed Ankita Das 4-2. But sub-junior Vanshika Bhargava of Delhi, who cleaned up fourth seed Madhurika Patkar 4-0 in the earlier round, never threw in the towel against Mousumi Paul and troubled her all the way before going down 3-4 while Divya Deshpande had the easiest (4-1) victory, against Amrutha Pushpak of RBI.
The day definitely belonged to the little girl from Delhi. After disposing of Madhurika, she took Mousumi Paul and went 1-0 up straightaway. But the experienced PSPB paddler steadied herself to go 3-1 up. With nothing to lose, Vanshika slowed inched her way and won the next two games—her forehand working wonderfully well—to give a nightmarish experience to Mousumi. But in the end, Mousumi prevailed over the sub-junior paddler to breathe easy.
Even Sreeja Akula surprised Sutirtha with fine execution and shot selection which pushed the West Bengal girl on the back foot as Sreeja led 3-2. The onus was on the No. 2 seed and managed to win the sixth game by minimal point to chance her wrist in the decider. Manika won the fifth game after the scores were level to win on extended points. That was the indication to up the ante as she ended Ankita’s agony in the next.
In comparison, the men singles quarterfinals went along the expected line except fifth seed Raj Mondal upsetting Subhajit Saha, the third seed, 4-1. He will now take on in the semi-finals as Sushmit Sriram who beat Anirban Ghosh 4-2 while in the second Manav Thakkar, who defeated Sudhanshu Grover 4-2, will meet Arjun Ghosh, the second seed. Arjun beat Devesh Karia 4-1.