Seeded sixth in the 81st National Table Tennis Championships, Harmeet Desai was in fine form as he lifted the men’s singles title by beating fourth-seeded Manav Thakkar 11-4, 11-13, 14-12, 9-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5 in the final.
Representing the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), both the paddlers took the match right to the wire with Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar winning alternative games all the way through before Desai took the match 4-3.
While Harmeet Desai had beaten Soumyajit Ghosh of Haryana 11-9, 11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 14-12 to reach the final, Manav Thakkar had overcome the stiff challenge of PSPB’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 11-9, 16-14, 7-11, 15-13, 6-11, 11-9 to set up the summit clash.
“Ever since I started training at the centre (in Germany) where I get to play with world’s top paddlers, I have improved in my blocks and shot selections,” Harmeet Desai was quoted saying by the Press Trust of India.
“Manav and I have been travelling together and when he engages you in long rallies, often he wins. And the mistakes I made in the sixth game forced me to rethink and I decided to keep my cool in the decider,” added the paddler, who had first reached the national championships final in 2013.
Sutirtha Mukherjee leads Haryana’s charge
One of the most successful teams in the national championships was Haryana, who won the gold medals in both the men and women doubles events and clinched the silver medal in the mixed event as well.
And the star for them was Sutirtha Mukherjee who defeated PSPB’s Krittwika Sinha Roy, a three-time finalist, to win the women’s singles final 4-0. Apart from the singles feat, Sutirtha Mukherjee also won two gold medals in the team event as well as in the women’s doubles event.
Her gold rush, however, ended in the mixed doubles event where she partnered Sourav Saha to lose the final 1-3 to West Bengal’s pair of Ronit Bhanja and Mousumi Paul.