Paddlers Desai, Sathiyan, Amalraj in India Open main draw

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Indian youngsters Harmeet Desai and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan rode into the main draw of the 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open table tennis tournament with emphatic victories in their final qualification matches at the Thyagaraja Sports Complex here on Wednesday.

The experienced Anthony Amalraj also entered the main draw of the $150,000 tournament, outsmarting Chinese Taipei’s Tzu-Hsiang Hung in a four-game duel.

They will join fellow Indians Achanta Sharath Kamal, Soumyajit Ghosh and Sanil Shetty in the main draw. Sharath Kamal, as World No.62, had got a direct entry into the main draw.

The 19-year-old Sreeja Akula also created a flutter among the sparse crowd in the stands by defeating World No.171 Lin Po-Hsuan of Taiwan to become the first Indian to make it to the semi-finals in the U-21 women’s singles competition.

The Hyderabadi lass, ranked World No.322, won 11-7, 6-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-9 for one of the biggest wins in her nascent career.

Sadly, Sreeja couldn’t continue the momentum in the battle for a place in the final later in the evening. She put up a strong fight against Wai Yam Soo of Hong Kong, even enjoying a game point in the crucial second game. But she couldn’t convert it and ended up losing 2-11, 11-13, 7-11.

India had two more players in the fray, after finishing second in their respective groups. But, both, Manav Thakkar and Sudhanshu Grover failed to drive home the advantage of home support.

Manav looked good in the opening game against Japan’s Asuka Sakai, winning it 11-7. But Sakai cleverly pegged him on his backhand, not allowing him to bring his fierce forehand into the contest to take the next four games.

Sudhanshu meanwhile, found Lubomir Jancarik of Czech Republic too hot to handle and wilted away 6-11, 9-11, 8-11, 6-11.

–IANS

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