Gurgaon Sapphires have crowned champions of the fourth edition of the Pro Tennis League (PTL) at the RK Khanna Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday. With the win, the Sapphires joined Meerut Stag Babolat Yoddhas, Proveri Supersmashers and Team Radiant in lifting the trophy.
Gurgaon Sapphires beat Paramount Proec Tigers 93-72 in the final needing just six points in the decisive men's doubles contest. Earlier, they had beaten Meerut Stag Babolat Yoddhas, 93-82, in the semi-final. Meanwhile, Paramount Proec Tigers had found themselves in the summit clash at the expense of the DMG Delhi Crusaders by an agonising single point (92-93).
Gurgaon Sapphires, who had made the second leg of the competition by just two points, were aware of the importance of making every shot count. And it was the case in the title clash as well.
Tunisia's Malek Jaziri made his experience at the top level count in beating Karan Singh in the men's singles match 19-11. And then, the combination of Faisal Qamar and Nitin K Sinha was far too good for Vishnu Vardhan and Shivang Bhatnagar to clinch the match 7-13.
It meant Sapphires needed all of six points in the last match, a men's doubles, to get their hands on the trophy. The team of Malek Jaziri and VM Ranjeet go there with sheer ease as Vishnu Vardhan and Karan Singh desperately tried to play catch up.
But before them, the women's players for Sapphires -- Mahika Khanna (next-gen), Sharmada Balu (women's singles) and Sharmada Balu and Mahika Khanna (women's doubles) -- triumphed 8-7, 13-7 and 9-6 to put the Sapphires in a dominant position.
"Happy to win the PTL, to have the team to get the job done. Everyone in the team played their part. Great job by Adi (Aditya Khanna) and Ashish (Khanna) for organising this tournament and I am happy to be here in India. Sharmada (Balu) played very well today but everyone did, that's why we won," said Jaziri after the match.
Paramount Proec Tigers co-owner Manav Modi recognised the importance of the women's players among the Gurgaon Sapphires that swung the way of the final. "It was incredible. First year for this team and the fact that we've reached this year is an incredible achievement. The semi-final was a nail-biter and it was incredible. In the final, we got outplayed by the Sapphires and they did a great job. Their women's team was very strong and that changed the game for them," he said.
"If you see the format, the next-gen players get the exposure at the top level and that is a chance for them to showcase their talent," he added on the importance of the league.