Pressure pulls TT national champ Mouma down

Hyderabad, Jan 9 (IANS) The pressure of selection for the Olympic qualifiers was writ large on the faces of even the most experienced, as second seeded Mouma Das and No.5 Ankita Das crashed out from the women’s singles quarterfinals to join those who fell by the wayside in earlier rounds of the 77th National and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships at the Kotla Vijay Bhaskara Reddy Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.

Top seeded Manika Batra beat West Bengal’s Mousumi Paul 4-2 after some initial struggle for a semi-final meeting with Krittwika Sinha Roy.

In the third quarterfinal, Mouma went down to seventh seed Madhurika Patkar 3-4 and with that her ambition of retaining the national title she won last year at Pudhucherry. Sixth seed Pooja managed to stop Tamil Nadu’s Reeth Rishya on her tracks to win 4-3 in the last quarterfinal.

With selectors watching the proceedings, there were quite a few nervy moments for the country’s top paddlers in both sections.

Mouma depended more on her backhand than the blistering forehand drives and Reeth, cool and calm until the quarters, goofed it up in a role reversal. Pooja kept her cool and exploited her opponent’s weak points to go through to the semis where she will take on her Maharashtra rival Madhurika.

In men’s quarters, top seeded Achanta Sharath Kamal steam rolled Maharashtra’s Sanil Shetty 4-1 and Sathiyan sent fourth seed Harmeet Desai packing for a 4-3 verdict.

Third seeded Soumyajit Ghosh was taken the full distance by Subhajit Saha before the former won 4-3 and in the last quarterfinal No.2 seed Anthony Amalraj, after being 3-0 up, was stretched to a 4-2 score by Haryana’s Jubin Kumar.

Earlier, Harmeet Desai and Pooja Sahasrabuddhe of Petroleum combined well in the final to beat the West Bengal pair of Ronit Bhanja and Ayhika Mukherjee 3-1 to lift the mixed doubles trophy.

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