Tuesday, 21 August, 2007

Sayali bags third title of the year

B D Narayankar


Sayali Despande, as usual, began her campaign with a predictable 11-7, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-2 win over Sruja Bhat in the final of the U-17 Girl’s Le Meridian Table Tennis Championship here on Monday.

Hardly giving any chance for her opponent, Sayali dictated terms mauling Sruja 11-7, 11-5 and 11-9 in first three games. Giving a tough fight, Sruja raised her vision of a comeback and smashed her way to a glorious 11-7 victory in the fourth game of the match.

Thereafter it was Sayali, who came off the blocks, playing elegant strokes in the fifth and deciding game, before clinching the title.

Continuing with her devastating form from where she had left last year winning three titles and two titles this year, Sayali wormed her way up into the title clash by defeating Gautami Bendre in pre-quarterfinals, Shrungeri Pavale in quarters and Sai Bakare in semi-finals. “Of all the matches I played in this tournament, Sruja was the toughest competitor,” Sayali told Herald after the match. Asked for the reason, she replied: “Because she was the only opponent to whom I conceded a game. I won all my previous matches in straight games.”

If Sruja smashed a booming smash, Sayali was in position to effortlessly send back the return often catching Sruja on the wrong-foot. She, however, began her second game cautiously, focusing more on pushing game. But whenever she found an opportunity to smash, she did it gracefully, winning vital points.

Sayali streaked to win the second game 11-5 and then rubbed it in, winning the third at 11-9. Sayali’s confidence was severely dented when Sruja won the fourth game at 11-7. Retaining her poise, Sayali made a fantastic recovery to win the fifth and deciding game, conceding just two points to Sruja.

It was a shattering blow to Sruja as she was in tears before leaving Deccan Gymhana TT Hall.

RESULTS: U-17 Girl’s Singles: Sayli Deshpande bt Sruja Bhat 11-7, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-2

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