Indian paddlers finish with rich haul at El Salvador meet

Indian juniors claimed all but one title at the ITTF El Salvador Junior and Cadet Open Table Tennis Championships.

The Indians had earlier won both the team titles in the cadet section of the event which concluded Friday night. Like at Guatemala championships last week, the only title that eluded the Indians was the cadet boys’ singles crown.

The surprise finalist Arjun Ghosh finished with the silver medal after going down 1-3 (11-8, 13-15, 8-11, and 12-14) to No.2 seed Kwan Man Ho from Hong Kong in the final.

Though the unseeded Ghosh kept himself in the reckoning with his fine returns and excellent defense, his opponent proved a notch better than him. At Guatemala, Birdie Boro had lost the cadet boy final to Cuban Livan Martinez but this time the Indian had bowed out to the eventual winner, in the semi-finals 7-11, 11-13, 9-11.  In cadet girls’ singles, Moumita Das, a player with no world ranking emerged as the champion.

In the final she accounted for Spain’s Zhang Xuan, the No.2 seed, by the very narrowest of margins in a five-game duel (11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 11-13, 11-9), having at the semi-final stage beaten compatriot and top seed Sagarika Mukherjee in five games (11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 14-12, 11-5).  In the earlier round, Moumita ousted compatriot Sreeja Akula, also with no global listing, (9-11, 11-8, 11-5, and 11-7).

India also clinched cadet boys’ doubles and cadet girls’ doubles gold medals. Anirban Ghosh and Arjun Ghosh joined forces to win the title beating colleagues Birdie Boro and Lalrin Puia 10-12, 11-4, 11-2, 9-11, 11-8 and Moumita Dutta and Sagarika Mukherjee did an encore beating the Peruvian duo Valeria Cuba and Andrea Guzman 14-12, 11-8, 12-10. Anirban Ghosh and Sreeja Akula won the junior boys and girls single titles, their maiden efforts on the ITTF Junior circuit. For Anirban, who had entered quarter-finals last year, it was a quantum jump. Anirban defeated team mate and No. 8 seed Birdie Boro in the final 12-10, 11-9, 8-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9 in a see-saw encounter.

Anirban had all ready answers to Boor’s guiles and finished the game with a great winner to the right of Boro. If Anirban Ghost’s win was a bit of surprise for many, the success recorded by Sreeja Akula in the girls’ singles event against a much-known No.2 seed Sagarika Mukherjee stunned everyone.

After beating for Dominican Republic’s Eva Briton, the No.1 seed in the quarter-finals 4-2, then Spain’s Zhang Xuan, the No.4 seed in the semi-finals with a similar margin, she took on Sagarika Mukherjee. And deservingly, Akula posted another six-game win (8-11, 11-6, 12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4) against the No. 2 seed and in-form player.

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