Sunday, October 23, 2016

Big monkey off Sharath’s back, returns with a title in six years

Visakhapatnam, October 23, 2016: Achanta Sharaath Kamal, the old wine in a new bottle, was oozing with confidence and class. And it showed in the men’s singles final when he outshined G. Sathiyan to win 4-1 for his first title in six years in the 11Even Sports National Ranking (South Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium here today.

Earlier, Suthirtha Mukherjee beat Krittwika Sinha Roy 4-0 for women’s singles crown.
But today’s evening belonged to Sharath—and Shrath alone! All shots in the book, both close to the table and away from it, were on display and the first three games took everyone’s breath, including that of his rival, away. He needed minimum efforts and they told the different story of perseverance to all his Doubting Thomases.

Sathiyan, normally an attacking player, was rendered motionless. So power-packed were his shots, particularly the ones directed at his body, that they were applauded by a near-packed VPT Stadium.
“A big monkey is off my back. Yes, the last time I won a title was at the 2010 Nationals. A big relief, indeed, and coming as it did at a time when I decided to move into India, the win will definitely motivate me,” said Sharath.

In their third meeting—they met each other last year’s Senior Nationals at Hyderabad and again in the team events of the Petroleum Meet—Sharath was able to avenge his losses to Sathiyan.
Earlier, Sharath blanked out Harmeet Desai 4-0 but he faced the usual opening and end-game blues. But there was no such thing call nervousness in the final. Sathiyan proved to be vulnerable when put under pressure. But Sathiyan had his day earlier when he outscored Jubin Kumar for a 4-0 semifinal win. His Chennai-mate Sharath, for the moment, has put a solid lid on his ambition for a back-to-back title.

Suthirtha Mukherjee was unstoppable right from the day she started her season winning the women’s singles title at Jaipur during the Institutional Championships. After her first national ranking trophy at Rajkot last week, the West Bengal girl scored an emphatic win to claim her back-to-back titles.
Krittwika could neither match Suthirtha’s anticipation nor her guile and it reflected in the former’s game. Essentially both are strong backhand players but Suthirtha’s plus point was that she could make swift changes apart from using the flanks to her advantage. Krittiwika tried hard but always fell short of expectations. Earlier in the semifinals, Suthirtha defeated Mousumi Paul 4-1 and Krittwika Sinha Roy followed suit with a similar score line over Ankita Das to sail into the final.

It was courageous of PSPB boy, Birdie Boro, to turn the tables on West Bengal’s Arjun Ghosh to claim the season’s first Youth Boys title. Birdie, who won 4-3, was in the dumps gathered well in what was the finest recovery in recent times. The PSPB lad, like Arjun Ghosh who had finished a runner-up at Chandigarh, managed a second position at Rajkot.
But today, he showed a lot of guts and played like a true champion to outsmart a well-placed Arjun, who remained the bride’s maid once again and never the bride this season. This will definitely hurt him but he should put this loss behind and prepare for the East Zone at Aizawal next month.   
Manav Thakkar retained the Junior Boys title beating Delhi’s Parth Virmani 4-1. The final witnessed good, long rallies and the two enthralled the crow. However, the Delhi boy couldn’t do much in the face of Manav’s percentage game, despite losing his extended first game.

Archana also reclaimed her Youth Girls title to complete the golden double when she beat Tamil Nadu’s Seleenadeepthi Selvakumar 4-2. Just a little while ago, Archana had blanked her West Bengal rival Prapti Sen out 4-0 to retain Junior Girls crown.

It was a profitable zonal for Archana who lost her Youth title at Rajkot. But her determination to maintain consistency surfaced yet again today. Despite Seleena giving her some harrowing time—TN girl took two good games—Archana never lost sight of her title.

Similarly, Prapti fought well and looked on way to recovery in the third game of Junior Girls final. A steady pressure applied by Archana dampened her spirits and the moment the West Bengal girl lost that game after two deuces, she didn’t put her heart and soul in the fourth and just gifted it away committing far too many unforced errors.   

Men: Semifinals: Final: Sharath Kamal (PSPB) bt G. Sathiyan (PSPB) 11-8, 11-9, 11-3, 8-11, 11-5; G. Sathiyan bt Jubin Kumar 11-8, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5, Sharath Kamal bt Harmeet Desai 14-12, 11-9, 11-9, 14-12.
Women: Final: Suthirtha Mukherjee (WB) bt Krittwika Sinha Roy (PSPB) 11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5; Semifinals: Suthirtha Mukherjee bt Mousumi Paul 11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8, Krittwika Sinha Roy bt Ankita Das 9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-8, 11-6.
Youth Boys Singles: Final: Birdie Boro (PSPB) bt Arjun Ghosh (WB) 9-11, 9-11, 6-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9,11-8; Semifilnals): Birdie Boro bt Rohit Bhanja 10-12, 13-11, 11-6, 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-9, Arjun Ghosh bt Manav Thakkar 11-9, 11-5, 11-4, 11-5.
Youth Girls Singles: Final: Archana Girish Kamath (AAI) bt Seleenadeepthi Selvakumar (TN) 12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5; Semifinals: Archana Kamath bt Ayhika Mukherjee 9-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-2, 11-4, Selenadeepthi Selvakumar bt Amrutha Pushpak 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7.
Junior Boys Singles: Final: Manav Thakkar (PSPB) bt Parth Virmani (DEL) 13-15, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5; Semifinals: Manav Thakkar bt Wesley Rosario 11-8, 11-3,11-3,11-5, Parth Virmani bt Manush Shah 11-6, 4-11, 8-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-9.
Junior Girls Singles: Final: Archana G. Kamath (AAI) bt Prapti Sen (WB) 11-7, 11-9, 13-11, 11-2; Semifinals: Prapti Sen bt Priyanka Pareek 5-11, 11-7, 9-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9, Archana Kamath bt Yasini Shivashankar 11-8,11-8,11-3,5-11,11-9.

TTFI Press release

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Classy Sharath enters semifinals

Visakhapatnam, October 22, 2016: A. Sharath Kamal showed what a classy player that he is as he inched his way into the semifinals of the 11Even Sports National Ranking (South Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium here today.

Brushing aside his disappointment of having to play the qualifiers, the ace paddler defeated West Zone finalist Devesh Karia 4-2 to mark his fresh beginning in the domestic circuit fruitful and worth-a-while.
It was a classy show because Sharath was down 0-2 against the left-hander. With his determination intact, Sharath launched his attack and went about reducing the margin, slowly but surely, to lead 3-2. In the sixth game, some loose shots almost cost him dear but Sharath kept his date with destiny to win the extended game.

He will meet Harmeet Desai in the semifinal tomorrow. Harmeet beat Raj Mondal 4-1. In other quarterfinals, top-seed Sathiyan beat Manav Thakkar 4-2, Jubin Kumar defeated Sushmit Sriram by the same margin.

Meanwhile, Manika Batra, Mouma Das and Divya Deshpande were sent packing by their opponents in the quarterfinals. The toughest of all was the one between Mousumi Paul, finalist at Rajkot, and Mouma Das. The veteran tried her best but in the end Mousumi went through.

Earlier, Manika Batra was ill at ease in the pre-quarterfinals when she met qualifier Senhora D’Souza of Maharashtra but the No. 3 seed managed to win 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6. In other matches, Krittwika Sinha Roy defeated eighth seed Pooja Sahasrabuddhe 4-2, Ankita Das beat K. Shamini 4-2, Madhurika Patkar disposed of Poulomi Ghatak 4-1, Mouma Das downed Ayhika Mukherjee 4-1, Mousumi struggled to overcome Priyanka Pareek 4-2, Divya Deshpande rolled past Reeth Rishya 4-0 and top-seed Suthirtha Mukherjee handed out a 4-0 thrashing to Chipia Frenaz.

In men’s pre-quarters, top-seed G. Sathiyan faced his toughest challenge before staging his recovery to beat Siddesh Pande 4-2 (7-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6, 11-9). It was a shock of sorts for the top-seeded paddler when Siddhesh outplayed him in the first two games. Even in the sixth, Sathiyan and Siddesh were 9-all but the former prevailed.

Manav Thakkar was extended 4-3 by Nitin Thiruvengadam, AAI’s Sushmit Sriram made a fine comeback in the decider to beat Subhajit Saha 4-3, Haryana’s Jubin Kumar, a semifinalist at Rajkot, beat Sarthak Gandhi 4-2, Harmeet Desai advanced beating Aman Balgu 4-0, Raj Mondal beat Utkarsh Gupta 4-1, Devesh Karia won over Sougata Sarkar 4-0 and A. Sharatah Kamal decimated Nishaad Shah 4-0. Nishaad had beaten No. 2 seed Sanil Shetty in a second-round match yesterday.

In Youth Girls’ main draw, Abhinaya Ramesh beat Kritika Malik 3-1, Monika Manohar overcame Prati Sen 3-2, Anushka Dutta downed Manushree Patil 3-1, local girl Shailu Noorbasha beat Varuni Jaiswal 3-1, Kaushini Nath defeated Tanisi Kirtani 3-1, Seleenadeepthi outlasted Ishita Gupta 3-2 and Chipia Frenaz blanked out Yashini Sivasankar 3-0. Top players in the section were given first-round byes and they will begin their campaign from pre-quarters later tonight. 

In Youth Boys, Abhimanyu Mitra, Sherayal Telang, Ali Mohammad and Shreyas Kulkarni entered the pre-quarters where they will be joined by those who received first-round byes to play a round tonight.
Trophies and cash prizes in six sections—Men, Women, Youth Boys and Girls, Junior Boys and Girls—will be decided tomorrow when the finals are slated. From the day after, the qualification matches for Sub-Junior and Cadet Boys and Girls will commence.

Men: Quarterfinals: G. Sathiyan bt Manav Thakkar 11-6, 11-3, 12-14, 11-5, 10-12, 11-9, Jubin Kumar bt Sushmit Sriram 11-13, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5, 6-11, 12-10, Harmeet Desai bt Raj Mondal 6-11, 11-6, 12-10,11-2, 141-12, Sharath Kamal bt Devesh Karia 9-11, 6-11, 11-9,11-7, 11-6, 13-11,
Women: Quarterfinals: Suthirtha Mukherjee bt Divya Deshpande 11-6, 15-13, 11-8, 4-11, 11-6, Mousumi Paul bt Mouma Das 11-7, 8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 13-11, 7-11, 11-8, Krittwika Sinha Roy bt Manika Batra 7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, Ankita Das bt Madhurika Patkar 12-10, 11-2, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8. 

Chikkarangappa survives late surge by Rahil Gangjee, prevails in close contest to win title

Bengaluru, October 22, 2016: Reigning Rolex Ranking champion Chikkarangappa S survived a late surge from fellow Bengalurean Rahil Gangjee before prevailing in a close contest at the inaugural TAKE Open Golf Championship at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course. Chikka ended the Rs. 1 crore PGTI event with a persistent final round of one-under-71 that took his tournament tally to 13-under-275.

Rahil Gangjee, tied for the lead till the 16th hole, finished a creditable second at 12-under-276 courtesy his final round of four-under-68.

Home boy Chikkarangappa (69-67-68-71), the overnight leader by three, came up with another unwavering effort at the world-class KGA course to seal his 10th professional title which also accounted for his second win of the current PGTI season.

The 23-year-old Asian Tour regular bagged a handsome cheque of Rs. 15 lakh for his victory and as a result has now zoomed into first position in the Rolex Ranking, taking a leap of 15 places. His season’s earnings stand at Rs. 24,06,640.

Chikka looked set to drive home the advantage when he was two-under for the day through 11 holes. He had holed a 40-footer on the seventh and played a magnificent bunker shot on the 11th for birdies on both holes.

However, it was around this time that Rahil Gangjee (68-70-70-68), who was tied fourth and four off the lead after round three, started making a move.

Gangjee charged into contention as he caught up with Chikka after birdies on the 11th, 14th and 15th holes. The former Asian Tour winner missed an eagle by a whisker on the 11th and made a long conversion on the 14th.

Chikka, who had dropped a bogey on the 14th, survived some anxious moments on the last stretch as he recovered from a tough spot on the 17th salvaging a par with a tremendous chip.

A poor chip by Gangjee, who was playing one group ahead of Chikka, on the 17th, led to a bogey for him and handed the sole lead back to Chikka. Finally, it was a four-foot par conversion on the 18th that saw Chikka come through as the champion.

Chikka, who recently sealed his Asian Tour card, said, “It’s been a satisfying win since I was mentally and physically exhausted coming into the last round, having played four weeks in a row. The last four weeks had taken a toll on me as I was in contention through all these events. My energy levels were low today so I kept telling my caddie to push me to play better.

“I had a bad stretch from the 12th to the 14th where I was not reading the lines well. I then had a nervous last few holes as Rahil made a charge. I got lucky when he bogeyed the 17th. I then decided to play regulation golf. The brilliant chip that set up a par for me on the 17th turned out to be crucial as it kept me ahead.

“This win has brought me back into contention for the Rolex Player of the Year title. I’d love to defend my Rolex Ranking title this year,” added Chikka.

Gangjee, the runner-up, said, “I wasn’t watching the leaderboard but I knew that I had to keep at it till the end since Chikka has been in hot form of late and wouldn’t let go of the lead easily. I enjoyed a superb stretch from the 11th to the 16th. But I missed an important birdie opportunity on the 16th and also got it wrong with my chip shot on the 17th.

“The miss on the 16th turned out to be decisive at the end. Nonetheless, it was a good comeback on the final day,” added Rahil, who recently moved base from Kolkata to Bengaluru.

Indian star Jyoti Randhawa shot the day’s joint best score of 67 to grab a share of third place along with Sri Lankan Anura Rohana (69) and Panchkula’s Shubhankar Sharma (71) at 10-under-278. Shubhankar has now moved into second position in the Rolex Ranking with season’s earnings of Rs. 21,42,513.

Bengaluru’s Jaibir Singh took the prize for the best performance by an amateur as he claimed tied sixth place at eight-under-280 along with Delhi’s Chiragh Kumar.

Sanjay Kumar of Lucknow had a hole-in-one on the eighth during his final round of 72. He finished tied 10th at six-under-282.

Fifteen-year-old amateur Aadil Bedi of Chandigarh, making his first appearance in a professional event, shot a final round of 73 to finish tied 51st at 10-over-298.   

Prize Presentation Picture Caption:

Chikkarangappa receives the winning cheque and trophy from (left to right) Mr. Sandeep Madhavan, Captain, KGA, Mr. Uttam Singh Mundy, Director, PGTI, Mr. Srinivasan H R, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, TAKE Solutions, Mr. Sanjay Nadgouda, President, KGA and Mr. Rajesh Malliya, General Manager, Hotel Royal Orchid.

PGTI release and photo

Chikkarangappa makes a statement with an unyielding 68 in round three

S Chikkarangappa 
Bengaluru, October 21, 2016: Reigning Rolex Ranking champion Chikkarangappa S of Bengaluru made a statement with an unyielding four-under-68 in round three of the TAKE Open Golf Championship, a Rs. 1 crore PGTI event, being played at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course. Chikka’s brilliant third round effort gave him a three-shot lead at 12-under-204.

Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh (68) and Panchkula’s Shubhankar Sharma (70) were tied for the second place at nine-under-207.

Chikkarangappa (69-67-68), the overnight joint leader, delighted the home crowd on Friday after he ended the penultimate round with a three-stroke cushion at the top.

The 23-year-old precocious talent was off to a terrific start on day three as he reeled off birdies on the first three holes. Chikka landed it within four feet for the second time during the day for another birdie on the sixth. However, a couple of erratic tee shots on the fourth and ninth resulted in bogeys and saw him make the turn at two-under.

Chikka consolidated his lead with a display of fine putting on the back-nine, nailing birdie putts from a range of 12 to 20 feet on the 11th, 12th and 17th. Although, the winner of nine titles stumbled with a bogey on the closing 18th after finding the hazard, he continues to be the overwhelming favourite going into the final round.

Chikka said, “I enjoyed a great start over the first three holes. Thereafter, my course management wasn’t good. I kept putting myself under pressure trying to hit difficult shots, especially on the par-5s.

“Scoring on the par-5s used to be my strength but for the last few weeks I’ve not been able to capitalize on the par-5s. That’s one issue I need to address immediately.

“I made some long putts today and missed a couple of short ones. I feel the long putts are easier to make here at KGA since your expectations are low. But the short ones that are there for the taking can be quite tricky since reading the greens is not easy here.

“I’m looking to improve on my tee shots in the final round since I missed a few fairways today but was lucky to not get into too much trouble. I must play to a plan and stick to my strategy in round four, especially with regard to the par-5s,” added Chikka.

Gaurav Pratap Singh (67-72-68), made a significant move up the leaderboard, from overnight tied eighth to tied second, on day three, as a result of his 68. Gaurav, a former winner on the PGTI, was two-under through 16 holes but had a late surge with long birdie conversions on the last two holes that helped him close the day in joint second.   

Shubhankar Sharma (68-69-70) moved up one place from overnight third to tied second after a round of 70. Shubhankar, placed second in the Rolex Rankings thanks to his two wins earlier this year, is likely to be a prime contender on the final day.

The other top names in the chasing pack will be Delhi’s Chiragh Kumar, Bengaluru’s Rahil Gangjee and Sujjan Singh of Chandigarh, all of whom ended day three in tied fourth place at eight-under-208.

Bengaluru amateur Jaibir Singh slipped from tied fourth to tied seventh after his third round of 71. Sri Lankan Anura Rohana too shot a 71 to join Jaibir in tied seventh place at seven-under-209.

Indian star Jyoti Randhawa (72) was in tied 11th at five-under-211.

Fifteen-year-old amateur Aadil Bedi (79), making his first appearance at a professional event, closed the day in 54th at nine-over-225.

Leading Scores after Round 3 (54 holes):

204: Chikkarangappa (69-67-68)

207: Gaurav Pratap Singh (67-72-68), Shubhankar Sharma (68-69-70)

208: Chiragh Kumar (70-69-69), Rahil Gangjee (68-70-70), Sujjan Singh (66-70-72)

Shubhankar & Khalin look to make it count in Asia

Indian youngsters Shubhankar Sharma and Khalin Joshi will look to capitalize on their last three events of the Asian Tour season as they strive to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Chikkarangappa, who recently sealed his Asian Tour card with some top-notch finishes.

Shubhankar and Khalin, currently placed 83rd and 108th respectively, in the Asian Tour money list, will need some good finishes in their remaining events scheduled to be played in The Philippines, Indonesia and India (Panasonic Open India), if they are to book a place in the top-60 and thus earn exemption.

Shubhankar, who had two wins on the PGTI in the first half of the year, said, “I haven’t played up to my expectations on the Asian Tour so far. It’s been an up and down year for me. A good result here at the TAKE Open would be very reassuring. I can then hopefully carry forward the form to the Asian Tour and make the last three events count.”

Khalin, also a winner on the PGTI in 2016, said, “I’ve been a little patchy this season. But I’m looking to improve on my hitting before I head to the Asian Tour for my last three events there. I need one really solid week to make it into the top-60, and I feel the event in India will be crucial in that regard. I’m looking to make the most of these opportunities.”

PGTI release