Harmeet Desai held his nerve in an exciting battle against ace Indian paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran to take Goa Challengers to their first victory against Dabang Delhi TTC in IndianOil Ultimate Table Tennis Season 4 at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge-Balewadi in Pune on Saturday.
Harmeet was the key performer for Goa Challengers as he registered a stunning victory against Sathiyan by 3-0 in the fourth match (Men's Singles) of the tie after winning the Mixed Doubles match with Suthasini Sawettabut to give his franchise an unassailable 8-4 lead.
Both Harmeet and Sathiyan played with attacking intent from the get-go. They used their forehands to good effect as the audience sit in awe to applaud their top-notch skills on the table. In the end, it was Harmeet, who won the opening game by 11-8 before clinching the second with an even better scoreline of 11-5.
The third game went down to the wire as both the paddlers fought for every point. However, the momentum worked in Harmeet's favour as he clinched it by 11-10 to win the tie for Goa Challengers.
After Harmeet's remarkable win, Suthasini played the last match (Women's Singles) of the tie and clinched a victory by 2-1 (11-7, 11-9, 8-11) against Barbora Balazova to send the Goan franchise in an even better position in the league table.
Earlier, Alvaro Robles of Goa Challengers faced Jon Persson in the first match (Men's Singles) of the tie and won it by 2-1 to give his franchise two valuable team points.
Robles began the tie on a strong note as he used solid defence to defy the strong forehand shots of Persson. He then used a combination of precise attacks to take the first game by 11-9 before the Swedish paddler made a strong comeback to take the second game by 11-8 with quick rallies.
The last game saw Robles on top of his game as he did not give any breathing space to Persson and won it by 11-4 to give his franchise a winning start in the tie.
In the second match (Women's Singles) of the tie, Sreeja Akula of Dabang Delhi TTC registered a thrilling 2-1 victory against Reeth Tennison.
Reeth was ahead on the scorecard at the start of the match, however, Sreeja fought back quickly with her precise backhands and firm defence to take the first game by 11-7. The Goan paddler used the same attacking strategy in the second game and this time it worked in her favour.
Sreeja failed to return Reeth's ferocious shots with absolute precision to lose the game by 6-11. The third game was the most thrilling of them all as both the players did not give an inch to each other with their attacking intent. In the end, it was Sreeja who kept her nerve to win the game by 11-9 and bring the tie to 3-3 team points.
The Goan paddlers continued their positive intent in the third match (Mixed Doubles) as Harmeet and Sawettabut beat the pair of Sathiyan and Barbora Balazova 2-1 to bring their franchise in lead again by 5-4 in the tie.
Harmeet and Suthasini looked in complete control of the match from the beginning as they took the first game by 11-2 with outstanding coordination. The pair of Sathiyan and Barbora lacked precision in the second game as well. They lost the second game by 6-11 before winning the third one by 11-4 to keep their franchise in the tie.
Dabang Delhi TTC 5-10 Goa Challengers
Jon Persson 1-2 Alvaro Robles (9-11, 11-8, 4-11)
Sreeja Akula 2-1 Reeth Tennison (11-7, 6-11, 11-9)
Sathiyan/Barbora 1-2 Harmeet/Suthasini (2-11, 6-11, 11-4)
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 0-3 Harmeet Desai (8-11, 5-11, 10-11)
Barbora Balazova 1-2 Suthasini Sawettabut (7-11, 9-11, 11-8)