Ajmer, November 29: Left proved right in a long time. And Sanil Shankar Shetty defeated Arjun Gosh 4-2 in the men’s singles final to lift his maiden title in the 49th Inter-Institutional Table Tennis Championships at the MCC Indoor Stadium here today.
The women singles crown went the way of Manika Batra after she managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat to beat Reeth Rishya, who wilted under pressure after leading 3-1, to win 4-3.
Sanil, who ran into a fine form in the event here, was destined to own the trophy and Rs. 88,000 in prize purse, after the top-seed and title favourites Manav Thakkar was consumed yesterday by Arjun from AAI.
The AAI paddler failed to repeat the form he hit in the quarters and semifinal yesterday and overawed by the occasion of a big final began badly as Sanil took the lead. But the fighter in him, kept Arjun going when he first levelled the score and went 2-1 up. That was all he could as Sanil proved a better finish in such a moment and seized every opportunity that came with blistering down-the-line drives and superb angled serves to wrap up the next three games.
Reeth could have joined her husband to present themselves a post-wedding gift and celebrated their success in a big way. But that was not to be.
For, Reeth could not have got a better opportunity than the one today. An improved Reeth assessed her opponent’s strengths and, without falling into her traps, played with controlled aggression to go 2-0 up, including winning the second extended game calmly. Manika, with her international experience to boot, took her first game soon after and mounted pressure. Yet, Reeth was up to her task and stayed focused to lead 3-1.
With everything on her platter, she just needed to step on the gas pedal for one final assault on the top-ranked Indian in the world at No. 61. But the increasing pressure and some loose shots took their toll on Reeth and playing a subdued game she gave in. That was the chance Manika was looking for and she grabbed it with both hands to surge ahead.
After making 3-3, the top-seed knew how to go about the task. Without giving any further leeway, Manika rode luck and completed the last point with a lot to spare in the decider for her third title in the Institutional competition. Her last two titles came in the events held in 2011 (Burnpur) and 2015 (New Delhi). Incidentally, this was the only domestic appearance she has made this season and the win was worth Rs. 77,000.
Reeth, of course, would rue her missed opportunity but can take heart from the fact that the runner-up position could act as a trigger in her future title ambitions.
Women Singles: Final: Manika Batra (PSPB) bt Reeth Rishya (PSPB) 11-13, 14-16, 11-7, 7-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-5.
Men Singles: Final: Arjun Sanil Shetty (PSPB) bt Ghosh (AAI) 11-6, 6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6.