It was the best wedding gift Soumyadeep Roy couldn't give himself. Up 3-2 and leading 9-7, the Maharaja Pithapuram Cup was his. Almost. The India No.1 paddler had given the men's singles final everything he had; the backhand was on song and he had attacked Achanta Sharath Kamal into a corner.
At that point, Roy, a twice-national champion, took a timeout. Sharath Kamal's return was a dolly but instead of killing the point, Roy made a poor return. It was enough for Sharath Kamal to script his greatest escape at this level. He won four points and forced the final of the Keventer 72 nd senior national and inter-state championship into the decider.
There, Roy was always playing catch-up and only once at 3-3 did he actually manage to do that. But then he lost two points on his serve and Sharath Kamal succeeded in doubling the two-point lead. Roy pulled one back with a superb return smash to make it 6-9 but lost another point on his serve. At championship point, Sharath Kamal took a time-out, his first of the week, and took the game at 11-6.
No one has won five straight men's titles in the history of this competition. Kamlesh Mehta won four between 1985-88.
Shamini does it
Making it an all-Tamil Nadu affair was the impassive and impressive K Shamini who beat Mamta Prabhu 4-1 for her second national title.