Harmeet, Ayhika corner glory in national ranking TT
Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 18 (IANS) It took him almost three years for a national ranking title to come his way, but sixth-seed Harmeet Desai emerged as the deserving winner when he beat Sushmit Sriram of Tamil Nadu 4-1 to hoist the men's singles trophy in the UTT National Ranking (South Zone) table tennis championships at the Jimmy George Indoor Stadium here on Sunday.
Only on Saturday, Harmeet's name was recommended for the Arjuna Award and he could now celebrate the occasion with the victory he achieved on Sunday.
The PSPB paddler's previous title came in 2016 in the Central Zone championships at Indore when he beat Subhajit Saha, his victim in the quarterfinal here.
In fact, the 26-year-old from Surat did not have to toil much in the final. His opponent from Tamil Nadu, Sushmit, was patchy and could not push Harmeet to the corner as he did against Sanil Shetty in the semifinal.
Gujarat lad Desai had the right measure of his rival and drove himself into a defensive mode, upsetting Sushmit's calculation. Yet Sushmit managed to take a game off him and put up a good fight in the next before Harmeet claimed the last two points after deuce. The win was worth Rs 77,000 in cash prize.
In the women's singles final, seventh-seed Ayhika Mukherjee beat a tired looking Selenadeepthi Selvakumar 4-2 to claim her maiden crown.
Selena led 2-1 at one point and looked like causing another upset, but RBI paddler Ayhika stroked well and won some crucial winners which helped her win the fourth game and give her a distinct advantage.
Seizing the moment, she improved her game even as the Tamil Nadu paddler was struggling on her reliable backhand. The occasional forehands did fetch her points but they were not good enough as Ayhika sewn up the match to pocket a cash prize of Rs 66,000. Selena had to remain content with half the amount.
Earlier, Selena brushed aside the challenge of Kaushani Nath of Railways 4-0 to win the Youth Girls title and pocket a purse of Rs 30,800.