If Payas Jain was the X-factor in helping Delhi win both the Junior Boys and Youth Boys titles, it was Swastika Ghosh, who played the double role to perfection in serving the cause of Maharashtra A, who retained the Junior Girls trophy and added the Youth Girls crown in the 81st UTT Junior and Youth Nationals at the Indoor Hall of the M.A. Stadium here today.
Payas was more or less playing the role of a Manav Thakkar and leading the charge he and teammates defeated Gujarat 3-1 in what was a repeat of last year’s final. Chitrax Bhatt, who has a great potential to go up the ranks, was too good in the opening rubber and beat Aadarsh Om Chetri after leading 2-0.
Aadarsh did come back, but the Gujarat lad had a few aces up his sleeve to outwit him. But Payas downed Dhairya Parmar easily to bring Delhi on level before combining with Aadarsh against Chitrax and Dhairya to go 2-1 up. In the reverse singles, Payas lost the first game but steadied himself soon to win over Chitrax for the title.
In Youth Boys final, a strategic change brought about in the last minute by team management helped contain the rampaging Mohammed Ali of Telangana. He was the real thorn in the flesh of Delhi and could have stretched them, if not topple, as he did yesterday in the semifinal against Mizoram.
Payas, slated to play the second singles, was pitted against Ali and the Delhi boy with some difficulty beat his rival in five games. The first job accomplished, it became easy for Parth Virmani to beat SFR Snehit in straight games and, finally, Yashansh Malik completed the task with aplomb to give Delhi the second title.
PSPB, who were last year’s winners, did not field a team this year. However, they had pitted the Youth Girls squad, who lost in the semifinals to Bengal A yesterday.
In Junior Girls final, Maharashtra struggled to beat Bengal A 3-2, while it was a simple affair in Youth Girls final which they won 3-0 against the same side, dethroning erstwhile West Bengal squad, last year’s trophy holders.
To begin with, Maharashtra faced the first hurdle when Poymatee Baisya defeated Swastika Ghosh but Diya Chitale beat her Bengal rival Munmun Kundu to restore parity in the team score. The Diya and Pritha Vartika joined hands to plot straight games victory over the Bengal duo of Poymantee and Munmun. With a 2-1 lead, Maharashtra seemed the favourites, but Poymantee gave Bengal the lifeline by registering a win over Diya in the fourth rubber. In the decider, Swastika made up for her first singles loss and led Maharashtra to the team title with an easy win over Munmun.
In Youth Girls, the experienced Manushree Patil gave Maharashtra the lead when she downed a tired Poymantee in five games. Srushti Haleangadi defeated a passive Surbhi Patwari, who was expected to shoulder the burden, and in the third rubber, Premangi Gosh was no match a well-rested Swastika who won in straight games.