Amalraj, Manika crowned national TT champs

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Hyderabad, Jan 10 (IANS) Anthony Amalraj emerged the men’s singles winner for the second time, beating his opponent and second-time finalist G. Sathiyan 4-2 in the final of the 77th National and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships at the Kotla Vijay Bhaskara Reddy Indoor Stadium here on Sunday.

Just 40 minutes earlier, Petroleum Sports Promotion Board’s (PSPB) Manika Batra won her maiden women’s title, beating Pooja Sahasrabuddhle (PSPB) 4-3.

The fortune of pendulum kept swinging with both Amalraj and Sathiyan taking alternate games. But the fifth game settled it all when Amalraj ran off with a quick lead and mounted pressure on his rival. For Sathiyan, despite taking time-off for a quick consultation with his coach and former national champion S. Raman, things did not go his way.

Once Amalraj had made it 3-2, it was just a matter of time for him before pulling the shutters down on Sathiyan. Amalraj eventually lifted the Maharaja Pithapuram Cup and took home a cheque of Rs.2.2 lakh.

Nobody deserved to lose the women’s singles nerve-wrecking final. After all, both Manika and Pooja were playing their maiden final. When Manika took the first game, it looked things were going one way. But Pooja changed the course and kept herself very much in the reckoning until the last point.

Fortunes fluctuated from one extreme to another and a guess wasn’t possible. Manika was 7-5 up but went 7-8 down in the decider. From there, she grew in confidence and attacked to pick two more points. At 10-8, she served twice for the title point but Pooja saved both for a deuce.

With the service back with her, Pooja went 11-10 up and squandered her first match point. Again at 12-11, Manika saved one more. And that signified that the Travancore Cup and the winner’s purse of Rs.1.3 lakh slipping of Pooja’s hands. Pooja went home with just half the amount.

Manika let out a weak cry and raised her arms up in jubilation as her coach Sandeep Gupta wiped the tears rolling down his eyes.

“A great relief and I am very happy to have won a senior title,” said Manika.

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