Archana bags maiden crown

BRILLIANT: Archana Kamath with the trophy after winning the senior national title.

Veteran Sharath Kamal broke Kamlesh Mehta’s long-standing record of most national titles while Archana Kamath emerged the new champion on the women’s section in the National Table Tennis Championships here on Wednesday.

Sharath won his ninth crown defeating G Sathiyan in a gruelling final while Karnataka girl Archana, representing Petroleum Sports Promotion Board, became the first woman from her state to win the title in 50 years, defeating Krittwika Sinha Roy of West Bengal.

Archana’s confidence had soared after beating CWG gold medallist Manika Batra in the semifinals and it was evident in the final when she had to overcome some difficult moments before winning 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10, 7-11, 11-3.

She trailed 4-7 in the third game and again 6-10 in the fourth but the girl from Bengaluru came back strongly to go 3-1 up. In the fifth, some loose shots didn’t help her as she gave away too many negatives. However, in the sixth, she sealed the fate of Krittwika, who was also chasing her first title.

The 18-year-old dedicated the win to three important people, coach Vijay Sarathy, Judit Magos Engle, wife of former India coach Peter Engel, and her cousin sister, who passed away a fortnight ago under tragic circumstances.

Emotional

“I was very attached to her,” said the Youth Olympics quarterfinalist. “I think the title has come at the right time. I always wanted to win the crown. I know even my opponent would have liked to do that. I am happy I could do accomplish it,” said an emotional Archana.

The last player from Karnataka to win the title was Usha Sunderraj in 1968. It was the last of her five titles. In 1992, Archana Rao (Viswanath) reached the final but missed out on the title.

In the men’s section, an exciting final was on the cards with world number 30 Sharath taking on 31st ranked Sathiyan. And what a final it turned out to be with Sharath securing it 4-3.

Sathiyan matched Sharath stroke to stroke, yet, he failed to win the elusive maiden trophy despite reaching the final for the third time.

“The pressure was on both of us. But whatever I did to take the ninth title off my mind, it was coming back again and again with everyone reminding me. Similarly, Sathiyan was going for his first title and he was equally pressured,” said Sharath.

Giving full credit to Sathiyan, Sharath said, “This final was by far the best in terms of quality. That explains the ferocity and seriousness with which Sathiyan attacked from both flanks and kept me engaged.”

The results: Men Singles: Final: A. Sharath Kamal (PSPB) bt G Sathiyan (PSPB) 11-13, 11-5, 11-6, 5-11, 10-12, 11-6, 14-12; Semifinals: Sharath Kamal bt Manav Thakkar (PSPB) 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6, Sathiyan bt Ronit Bhanja (WB) 11-2, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7.

Women Singles: Final: Archana Kamath (PSPB) bt Krittwika Sinha Roy (WB) 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10, 7-11, 11-3;

Semifinals: Archana Kamath bt Manika Batra (PSPB) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, Krittwika Sinha Roy bt Ahyhika Mukherjee (WB) 11-6, 11-13, 15-13, 15-17, 11-8, 3-11, 11-7.

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Archana bags maiden crown

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