Ultimate Table Tennis: Falcons’ season 2 airborne with thrilling win over Maharashtra United
In the first leg at the Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex, Balewadi, Falcons clinched a narrow 11-10 win over Maharashtra United.pune Updated: Jun 14, 2018 23:23 IST
Defending champions Falcons started their season two campaign on a winning note in the Ultimate Table Tennis on Thursday.
In the first leg at the Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex, Balewadi, Falcons clinched a narrow 11-10 win over Maharashtra United. An outright wins by Lily Zhang and World No 18 Kristan Karlsson had put Maharashtra United in front, needing just one game to win the encounter.
However, Falcon’s ace paddler Matilda Ekholm’s clean 3-0 sweep against 2017 National Champion Madhurika Patkar sealed the deal for the season one title holders. Madhurika was was completely outshone by the world number 30 and Matilda secured Falcon’s win, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5.
Earlier, 22-year-old Lily Zhang gave Maharashtra United a good start by beating India number one Sutirtha Mukherjee 3-0. Initially Sutirtha displayed some aggressive game and was leading 6-4 in the first, but slowly Lily took over and scripted a narrow 11-10 win. Even in the second game, Lily crawled her way back from 6-8 to make it 2-0. The third game saw complete domination from the USA paddler as from 4-4, she went all out and sealed the deal at 11-5. Lily with her world rank 56, proved supreme in all departments compared to her 613th-ranked opponent. Lily’s maximum points (18) came from her serve.
In the men’s singles, Amalraj Anthony of Maha Utd gave his higher-ranked opponent Liam Pitchford of the Falcons, a tough game. Known for his aggressive game, Amalraj displayed powerful smashes and tried to wear down his opponent with long rallies. His efforts paid off and he won the first game 11-5.
Lanky Liam turned the tables from game two, and his crafty serves and wrist flicks proved too much for the Indian. With a 6-3 lead, Liam continued his domination and sealed it with 11-7 score. The third game was a battle between Amalraj’s powerful smashes and Liam’s wrist flicks and the world number 56 stamped his superiority with 11-9 win.
To put pressure on Falcon’s mixed double pair of Sanil Shetty and Bernadette-Cynthia Szocs of Romania, Maharashtra United coach N Ravichandran decided to put Amalraj back in the arena with Elizabeth Samara.
However, the move failed to bring the expected result and Sanil-Szocs started well by winning first game 11-9. Though, the Maha United pair levelled the scores by winning second game 11-8, they failed to keep the momentum and eventually lost the decider 6-11.
Maharashtra United’s hopes were pinned on Portugal’s aggressive paddler Joao Monteiro. However, the 71st ranked player failed to impress against Falcon’s Spaniard Alvaro Robles Martinez. Ranked 56th in the world, Martinez took little time to script 8-11, 11-3, 11-9 win over Maharashtra United skipper and levelling games scores 6-6. In the women’s singles’, Bernadette-Cynthia Szocs won the all-Romania battle as she scripted 11-8, 6-11, 11-6 win over her countrymate Elizabeth Samara. World No 18 Kristan Karlsson put Maha United back on track.
First Published: Jun 14, 2018 23:22 IST