Women fare better than men; Pooja, Reeth, Sourav and Arjun disappoint

ttCuttack: Nine Indians gained entry into the main draw of the women singles from among the 16 qualifiers to join the three seeds—Archana Kamath, Ayhika Mukherjee and Madhurika Patkar—in the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here today.

This would mean that exactly half the number of 24 that forms part of the main draw, with eight seeded players having been given direct entry, will be Indians. Among the other qualifiers, three were from Singapore, two from Nigeria and one each from Australia and Malaysia. The top-eight seeds get first-round byes, too.

The Indians that failed to make the cut included Pooja Sahasrabhude, Reeth Risya and Surbhi Patwari. However, they will have to do something worthy and to put up a better show in doubles to make the chance count.

Surbhi Patwar managed just one victory over Malaysian A Xin Tee when she beat her 11-5, 3-11, 11-6, 11-6 but lost the crucial match to group 11 leader Rui Xuan Goi of Singapore in straight games of 8-11, 1-11, 11-13 to be placed just behind the Singapore paddler.

In group 12, Reeth Rishya, clubbed with four players, managed a lone win over Sri Lankan Chamathsara 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 but lost her match against Singapore’s Eunice Zoe Lim 11-9, 10-12, 11-7, 9-11, 13-15. The Indian had a couple of match points which she frittered away to finish second in the group.

However, it was a very disappointing outing for Pooja who finished third despite being seeded at the top of group 14. After beating Scotland’s Lara Sterling 11-5, 11-8, 11-8, Pooja suffered a shock loss to Nigeria’s Ajoke Ojomu 6-11, 7-11, 11-13. She finished her campaign with yet another defeat to Singapore’s Tan-Llin Jassy. Pooja lost 3-11, 13-11, 5-11, 12-10, 7-11. The Nigerian qualified from the group.

In comparison, only six out of 11 Indians that went through the qualification process, made the main draw grade. The ones that fell by the way side included Sourav Saha (group 2), Anirban Ghosh (group 5), Arjun Ghosh (group 6), Jubin Kumar (group 12) and Siddesh Pande (group 16).

Though the singles main draw in both sections begins tomorrow with the top Indian men seeds in action, the real point of interest attraction for the day would be which of the Indian mixed pair will go on to claim the gold in the final to be played on Sunday.

Singles Qualifiers:

Men: Bode Abiodun (NGR), Thomas Jarvis (ENG), Sushmit Sriram, Manush Shah, Lucan Tan (SGP), Muhamad Rizal (MAS), Jeet Chandra, Ronit Bhanja, Azeez Jamiu (NGR), Yu En Koen Pang (SGP), Marios Yiangou (CYP), Sudhanshu Grover, Javen Choong (MAS), Clarence Zheyu Chew (SGP).

Women: Chunyi Feng (Aus), Krittwika Sinha Roy, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Alice Li Sian Chang (MAS), Nimotalia Aregbesola (NGR), Sreeja Akula, Mousumi Paul, Prapti Sen, Xin Ru Wong (SGP), Selenadeepthi Selvaumar, Rui Xuan Goi (SGP), Eunice Zoe Lim (SGP), Divya Deshpande, Ahoke Ojomu (NGR), Sagarika Mukherjee, Anusha Kutumbale.