Avani absorbs pressure to lift U-15 trophy

Indore:  Meeting patience with patience, Avani Tripathi of Uttar Pradesh prevailed 4-2 over Sayanika Maji of Delhi to win gold and lift the Under15 Youth Girls trophy in the ongoing 83rd Cadet & Sub-Junior Nationals at the Abhay Prashal, here today.

Shedding attacking inhibition, the UP girl blunted Sayanika’s defensive ploy to build points, game after game, the final consuming almost 50 minutes. Sayanika, who managed to put it across all her opponents up to the semifinal, wouldn’t have anticipated such resistance from her UP rival. Yet, she was game for it and almost managed to level the game despite Avani holding five championship points. She reduced it to a mere two at 10-8. But the excitement of getting the high ball clouded her mind and forced her into an unwarranted error. Her backhand smash turned unproductive and went out, giving Avani the championship point.

In hindsight, Sayanika must have rued that backhand shot. But the silver that she eventually settled for would make her feel better. Both the unseeded finalists have done enough to draw the attention of the national selectors, and they can only get better from now on.

It must have been the only Nationals in recent years that didn’t see an Under-15 seed sprouting in the Youth Girls and reaching either the stages of the semifinals or the final. Most of them could not go past the quarterfinals, while a few others withered in the first two rounds of the knockout phase. It has, however, paved the way for other youngsters to step up and make a mark for themselves.

Ananya Muralidharan from Tamil Nadu was one of those quality players who entered the medal round but went down to the guiles of Sayanika Maji of Delhi. Credit to the latter, who pulled it off in the nick of time in the first and third games to deny Ananya any game.

But the Tamil Nadu girl showed her gritty face after her rival, Soumya Das from Bengal, went 3-2 up. Ananya did well to take the last two games to enter the semifinals. Avisha Karmakar also played a gutsy quarterfinal to beat UP’s K. Disha 4-3. In a similar situation, Avisha put up a brave front to seize the momentum from Disha to win the last two to make the grade.

But Avisha failed to repeat the performance against Avani Tripathi of UP, who clinched the crucial decider to enter the final with a 4-3 verdict. Leading 3-2, the UP girl let Avisha claw her way back and level the score. Luck was on Avani’s side, and she won the seventh game with a minimal margin.

Incidentally, Ananya made it to the quarterfinals of the Youth Girls Under-11 category and lost tamely to the eventual title-winner, Prisha Goel of Delhi.

PRISHA WINS TITLE

Her international exposure and the few medals from those appearances had made the Delhi paddler, Prisha Goel, a pre-tournament favourite to win the trophy. Though unseeded, Prisha brushed aside her disappointment and felled one after another seed on her way to the final.

In the final, she faced seventh-seed Ikshika Umate from Maharashtra. The first two games that she won on extended points may have been the only hurdles in the title race. After quelling the initial challenges, Prisha was in a position to dictate terms and win 4-0 to take the gold without breaking any sweat. The Maharashtra girl had to settle for the silver medal.

CROWN FOR ANKOLIKA

In the Under-11 Youth Girls final, top-seeded Ankolika Chakraborty made mincemeat of Tanishka Kalbhairav, the seventh seed, to wear the crown. Her 3-0 triumph yet again proved her authority in this category. However, the Karnataka girl looked in supreme touch in the opening game before losing steam when the Bengal paddler upped the ante and forced Tanishka on the back foot.

The Results:

Youth Girls Under-15: Final: Avani Tripathi (UP) bt Sayanika Maji (Del) 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8; Semifinals: Avani Tripathi bt Avisha Karmakar (Ben) 3-11, 9-11, 12-10, 13-11,11-6, 7-11, 11-9; Sayanika Maji bt Ananya Muralidharan (TTTA) 11-9, 11-2, 11-9, 11-8; Quarterfinals: Avisha Karmakar bt K. Disha (UP) 5-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8; Avani Tripathi bt Ikshika Umate (Mah) 11-2, 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-7; Sayanika Maji bt Jennifer Varghese (Mah) 5-11, 11-6, 3-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7; Ananya Muralidharan (TTTA) bt Soumya Das (Ben) 8-11, 12-10, 12-10, 4-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8.

Youth Girls Under-13: Final: Prisha Goel (Del) bt Ikshika Umate (Mah) 12-10, 13-11, 11-6, 11-4; Semifinals: Ikshika Umate bt Pratha Pawar (Guj) 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-4; Prisha Goel bt Avisha Karmarkar (Ben) 4-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-8, 11-3; Quarterfinals: Ikshika Umate bt Tanmayee Saha (Ben) 7-11, 4-11, 12-10, 11-7, 12-10; Pratha Pawar bt Dhaani Jain (Del0 11-8, 11-6, 11-4; Avisha Krmakar bt M. Hansini (TNTTA) 8-11, 13-11, 11-4, 11-9; Prisha Goel bt Ananya Muralidharan (TTTA) 12-10, 11-7, 11-8;

Youth Girls Under-11: Final: Ankolika Chakraborty (Ben) bt Tanishka Kalbhairav (Kar) 12-10, 11-5, 11-4; Semifinals: Ankolika Chakraborty bt Ahona Ray (Ben) 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4; Tanishka Kalbhairav bt Ranjini Saha (Ben) 7-11, 12-10, 11-13, 11-4, 11-8; Quarterfinals: Anokolika Chakraborty bt Naisha Rewasakar (Mah) 11-6, 11-4, 11-5; Ahona Ray bt Aradya Dhingra (Del) 11-6, 10-13, 11-6, 11-9; Tanisha Kalbhairav bt Parnavi Seth (Ben) 12-10, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7; Ranjini Sahab t Krisha Patel (Guj) 11-6, 11-4, 11-8.