Pune, October 9: Archana Girish Kamath became the first Indian to enter the quarterfinals in women singles at the 3rd Youth Olympics Games when she beat Hong Kong’s Lee Ka Yee 4-2 (14-12, 14-12, 9-11, 8-11, 12-10, 15-13) in Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Thus, Archana avenged her YOG qualifiers’ loss in the Road to Buenos Aires series held in the Czech Republic a couple of months before she finally made the grade in the last qualifiers held in Rarontonga, Cooks Islands, in June.
In the pre-quarterfinals that lasted 40 minutes, the 18-year-old paddler from Bengaluru won the tie on her second match-point to stop Lee on her tracks after she had staged a fine recovery from a 0-2 deficit.
In the quarterfinals, she will play Jing Ning from Azerbaijan, who beat Puerto Rican Adriana Dais, tomorrow.
In the needle match, Archana had an upper hand despite the Hong Kong paddler was just separated by a couple of points to begin win. In the first two games, Archana held her nerves to outwit on her second game point, twice over.
But a determined Lee went into attacking mode right from the word go in the third game and that paid off as the Indian was pushed into the corner and was largely playing into her opponent’s hands. Probably upset by the loss, Archana was unable to keep the ball on the table which only helped Lee’s cause. Some crucial points also went the way of Lee to propel her.
But in the fifth, Archana regained control and led by a slender margin. At 10-10, it was anybody’s game but Archana held on to go up 3-2. And in the next, Archana surged into 5-2 lead but allowed her rival to come close at 8-7 when coach Soumyadeep Roy took time-out. But unfortunately, it didn’t help as Lee leveled 8-8 and then the game went 9-9 before Archana seizing the lead at 10-9.
Leet deuced and Archana was on her first match point at 11-10 only to let her opponent off the hook. But in the end, on her second chance she grabbed it with both hands to progress.
“It was a tense game with fortunes fluctuating. I should have won the match on the first chance but somehow managed to do it on the second occasion,” said an elated Archana.
On her next opponent, Archana said she and the coach will sit and strategise tomorrow. “We have to plan for tomorrow’s match and I have to carry today’s confidence into tomorrow’s quarterfinals,” she added.
Equally happy M.P. Singh, Secretary General of TTFI, sent his congratulatory message to Archana. “You did us all proud. Play the way you have been. You are just a step away from the medal round!” he said in his message.
Meanwhile, Manav Thakkar lost his pre-quarterfinals to Japanese Tomokazu Harmoto 4-1 to make his exit in the men singles event.