On a day when top teams like Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) and Bengal booked their quarterfinal berths, it was curtains for Uttar Pradesh in the Senior National Table Tennis Championship on Tuesday.
PSPB men, playing without star paddler Sharath Kamal, crushed Maharashtra B 3-0, before their women's team scored an identical win against Chandigarh. RSPB men wasted little time in brushing aside Chhattisgarh 3-0, while Bengal knocked out Punjab 3-0. Bengal women too were ruthless against Assam, scripting a 3-0 win to advance to the quarterfinals.
PSPB men will take on RSPB in the quarters on Wednesday, while Bengal will clash with Gujarat, who had a convincing 3-0 win against MP. In the women’s section, PSPB will lock horns with Tamil Nadu, while Bengal will face Airport Authority of India.
Much was expected of the host paddlers in the men's encounter against North Bengal. Though experienced Zabarjeet Singh brought the team back by winning the third singles against Rohit Chakraborty 6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4, there was nothing after that as UP's 'best bet' Sudarshan Prabhakar went down fighting to top junior player Soumyajit Ghosh 11-9, 6-11, 10-12, 9-11.
Before Zabarjeet’s heroics, both Sudarshan and Sourav Poddar had gone down meekly to Raj Mondal 9-11, 6-11, 6-11, and Soumyajit Ghosh 6-11, 5-11, 7-11, respectively.
UP’s previous best in the nationals was a bronze medal in 2000 on home turf. UP's exit also dashed their hopes of making it to the National Games.
There was some consolation for UP, as their women made it to the pre-quarters after a long time before losing to Maharashtra A 0-3. Vineeta Singh played her heart out but had no answers to Madhurika Patkar’s clean returns, losing 7-11, 2-11, 4-11 in the first singles. Aishwarya Pathak put up a spirited display, but lost to Mamta Prabhu 6-11, 8-11, 9-11. Finally, Sita Verma lost to Divya Deshpande 3-11, 6-11, 8-11.
Men: PSPB bt Maharashtra B 3-0; RSPB bt Chhattisgarh 3-0; North Bengal bt UP 3-1; Maharashtra A bt Orissa 3-1; TN bt Assam 3-2; Haryana bt Karnataka 3-1; Gujarat bt MP 3-0; Bengal bt Punjab 3-0.
Women: PSPB bt Chandigarh 3-0; TN bt Chhattisgarh 3-0; Gujarat bt Delhi 3-0; Maharashra A bt UP 3-0; North Bengal bt Madhya Pradesh 3-0; Airports Authority of India bt Andhra Pradesh 3-0; West Bengal bt Assam 3-0.