Slaying Chinese threat, Ayhika/Prapti beat 2nd seeds to reach WTT Feeder Otocec semis
Overcoming a tough challenge from the Chinese and dominating against the second-seeded Hungarians, the new pair of Ayhika Mukherjee and Prapti Sen are on a roll at WTT Feeder Otocec as they've entered the semis.
It's come down to seasoned paddler Ayhika Mukherjee and her new partner, Prapti Sen, to be the last two players standing from India at the WTT Feeder Otocec tournament in Slovenia, as they cruised into the semi-finals of the Women's Doubles, causing a big upset.
Having already battled past the Chinese duo of Han Feier/Xu Yi in the Round of 32 clash, the eighth-seeded pair of Ayhika Mukherjee and Prapti Sen were relentless against the second-seeded Hungarian combine of Dora Madarasz/Georgina Pota to book their place in the semi-finals and secure the third place for India.
Mukherjee, who usually plays with Tokyo Olympian Sutirtha Mukherjee, has paired up with Prapti Sen for this and this is their first international event together, after the 2018 Nationals when Ayhika and Prapti had a run till the semis. Back again after four years on an international stage, the results that are showing from this reunion are truly remarkable.
"Up against the Chinese, we were dominating from the start but then they started making a comeback, which pushed us to change strategy," Ayhika tells The Bridge, on a high after the back-to-back wins.
"Since I use a different rubber, I saw that the Chinese pair was getting confused with how my rubber was affecting the ball. My partner, Prapti, she has a very good block-and-attack game too and whenever she was getting the opportunity, she was finishing the point well," Ayhika mentions, praising the 20-year-old youngster.
Ayhika and Prapti had to dig quite deep against the Chinese duo and could only eke out the match 3-2, winning 9-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 7-11 to enter the quarters where they met the second-seeds.
"We had a tougher fight against the Chinese than the second-seeds oddly," Ayhika mentions sheepishly, indicating the 3-1 (5-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-5) victory they registered over Madarasz/Pota to enter the last four.
"We were just consistent today and had great coordination, there was no room for error! Although this is just the second time we are pairing up, there was no such issues in communication and that reflected in our game and on the table," Ayhika continues, mentioning the camaraderie she shares with young Prapti.
Hungry for a medal from the event now that all other Indian paddlers have exited the tournament - Ayhika is aware of the tough challenge in the semi-finals as they will have to face the fifth-seeded Hong Kong pair of Lee Ho Ching/Soo Wai Yam Minnie for a shot at a medal on 25th June.