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Nithyashree battles back from the brink

The day belonged to M. Nithyashree of Tamil Nadu. The 14-year-old, seeded ninth, rallied from three games down to overcome West Bengal’s Munmun Kundu 4-11, 2-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 12-10, 15-13 in the LIC-IOC South Zone National-ranking table tennis tournament here on Tuesday.

Munmun fired on all cylinders in the first three games, belting out forehand and backhand top-spin drives that evoked no response from the Chennai girl. When Nithyashree tried to play the short game, Munmun was quick to pounce on it.

Egged on by coach Subin Kumar and a few players from the State, Nithyashree staged a fightback, not hesitating to attack irrespective of the outcome. Her block was outstanding whenever Munmun was desperate to finish the point.

In fact, Munmun had three match-points in the sixth game and a fourth in the decider, but failed to convert them. Nithyashree, on the other hand, had four match-points in the decider, and converted the final one.

“I am happy. I never thought I would win. All I wanted was fight. This is my first-ever title at the National-level,” said Nithyashree.

Earlier, top-seeded Preyesh Suresh Raj of Tamil Nadu won his second National-ranking title of the season, with a 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-5 win over Shantesh Mapsekar of Goa.

The results:

Sub-junior boys: Final: H. Jeho (PSPBA) bt Payas Jain (Del) 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4; Semifinals: Jeho bt Hrishikesh Malhotra (Mah) 11-1, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7; Payas bt Jayabrata Bhattcharjee (NB) 12-14, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6.

Sub-junior girls: Final: M. Nithyashree (TN) bt Munmun Kundu (WB) 4-11, 2-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 12-10, 15-13; Semifinals: Nithyashree bt Tisha Kohli (Del) 11-4, 11-8, 11-4, 13-11; Munmun bt Mihika Rohira (Mah) 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9.

Cadet boys: Final: Preyesh Suresh Raj (TN) bt Shantesh Mapsekar (Goa) 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-5; Semifinals: Preyesh bt Balamurugan (TN) 12-14, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4; Shantesh bt Amav Aggarwal (PSPBA) 11-7, 11-8, 11-9.

Cadet girls: Final: Suhana Saini (Har) bt V. Nehal (TN) 11-5, 11-6, 11-1, 11-8; Semifinals: Suhana bt Arya Songadkar (Mah) 8-11, 11-9, 12-10, 9-11, 11-7; Nehal bt Vartica Bharti (UP) 11-6, 11-6, 11-7.

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