Indore, January 27: With the last medal hope Manav Thakkar fading away in the brightly-lit Abhay Prashal as he went down to the rampaging Hsin-Yang Li of Taipei 2-4, it brought the curtains down on the Indian campaign in the 2016 ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals here today.
The boy’s semifinals tomorrow will pit Romanian Alexandru Manole against Chi-Chien Lai of Taipei and Japanese Yuko Kato will take on Taipei’s Hsin-Yang Li. And in the first girl’s semifinals, Wai Yam Minnie Soo of Hong Kong will meet Andreea Dragoman of Romania while in the second Taipei’s Sih-Han Fang will clash with Japanese Yuko Kato.
Earlier, top-seeded Slovenian Darko Jorgic went down fighting to Romania’s Alexandru Manole 2-4 in the first quarterfinals while in the second Ronit Bhanja missed a great opportunity to bow out to Taipei’s Lai 4-3.
But the evening definitely belonged to Ronit who lost from a winning position in the decider at 11-10 as he failed to drive the final nail in the coffin when on match-point. Nevertheless, he won several hearts for his grit and determination. He was down and out at 1-3 before picking himself up nicely to level the score to give him an even chance.
The match witnessed long rallies, both close to the table and away from it, exhibition of cool temperament, fast and furious strokes off both hands and each other’s penchant to push one another away from the table and yet not slowing down, all one expected to see in a tough final. Never afraid to attack, both Ronit and Lai played superbly and whoever went out of reckoning would have done so with a tinge of personal disappointment.
Ronit, however, finished joint fifth with other losing semifinalists to pocket $1,050 for his fine efforts. “I should have won that last point for the sake of my teammates. But it was not to be. However, I am happy I fought till the end,” said the Barrackpore boy from the 24 North Parganas district of West Bengal.
In comparison, Manav was hardly in the game despite pulling up his socks after being 0-2 down. But the Taipei boys, with his fierce attacks and sold defence, made the Indian run from one corner of the table to another, including attacking his body with furious forehands. The Taipei boy’s backhand was equally good and never dropped his guard even when Manav staged his recovery.
In the consolation matches, Selenadeepthi Selvakumar finished two places ahead of Archana Kamath to be placed ninth when the former beat Romanian Andreea Clapa 12-10, 11-7, 14-12, 9-11, 9-11, 11-13, 11-8. Her ninth spot positioning made her richer by $ 950 to Archana’s 11 th position which earned her $650. Earlier, Archana went down to the Romanian 6-11, 10-12, 11-9, 8-11, 11-1, 14-12, 13-15 to end her second Finals campaign.
Earlier, Selena had beaten German Caroline Hajok 15-13, 11-4, 5-11, 11-5,11-8 to grab the opportunity of playing in the higher position match. It was creditable of the girl from Tamil Nadu to do so, particularly after the way she played lost her stage 1 matches.
In the morning, Archana lost her third round match 7-11, 6-11, 6-11, 4-11 to Amy Wang of USA, forcing a three-way tie as the Indian was edged out by 0.66 points! Ronit Bhanja who lost to Japanese Yukiya Uda 2-4 (5-11, 5-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6, 10-12), however, was lucky to move into the quarterfinals as he pushed the Japanese out by a fraction of 0.02 points.
Luckily, Manav Thakkar beat his rival from the USA, Victor Liu 4-2. But the win had come after an unexpected fight back by the American as Manav, leading 2-0 at one time, finally won 4-2 to his own relief and that of the Indian camp.
Selenadeepthi Selvakumar went through the formality of completing the third round match and went down to Kana Takeuchi of Japan 2-11, 2-11, 2-11, 7-11.
Results (Stage 2):
Quarterfinals: Alexandru Manole (ROU) bt Darko Jorgic (SLO) 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, Chi-Chien Lai (TPE) bt Ronit Bhanja 5-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-7, 9-11, 3-11, 13-11, Yuko Kato (JPN) bt Tze Wing Mak (HKG) 12-10, 6-11, 14-12, 5-11, 11-9, 11-7, Hsin-Yang Li (TPE) bt Manav Thakkar 11-6, 11-7, 11-13,9-11, 11-9, 11-8.
Quarterfinals: Wai Yam Minnie Soo (HKG) bt Pei-Ling Su (TPE) 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9, Andreea Dragoman (ROU) bt Amy Wang (USA) 10-12, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 3-11, 11-9, 14-12, Sih-Han Fang (TPE) bt Kana Takeuchi (JPN) 11-4, 7-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-6, Yuko Kato (JPN) bt Tze Wing Mak (HKG) 12-10, 6-11, 14-12, 5-11, 11-9, 11-7.