Hyderabad: The Telangana men’s team ended the medal drought by winning a bronze at the UTT 81st Senior National & Inter-State Table Tennis Championships being held at Saroornagar Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday.
The hosts lost 0-3 to defending champions Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), consisting the cream of Indian TT, in the semifinals 0-3 to settle for bronze.
The men had made it to the medal round for the first time in 45 years by beating Tamil Nadu 3-1 in the quarterfinals. Back in 1969, when it was a unified Andhra Pradesh, their men’s squad led by Mir Qasim Ali had beaten a strong Maharashtra for bronze.
SFR Snehit played a stellar role in winning both his singles — first against E. Prabhakaran and Nitin Thiruvengdam. Snehit put Telangana in the lead beating Prabhakaran 12-10, 12-10, 11-4 but Mohammed Ali lost to experienced Nitin who won 17-15, 11-9, 4-11 11-5, bringing pressure back on Telangana. But captain Aman Balgu, despite hiccups, managed to put it across Nikhil Suresh. With the tie hanging by a thin thread at 2-2 in the third rubber, Aman won 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-0. Then, Snehit drove the last nail with a 12-14, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 triumph over Nitin to assure their team of a medal.
However, the team was no match to PSPB in the semis. Youth National champion SFR Snehit taking a game off nine-time national champion Achanta Sharath Kamal during his 1-3 (7-11, 11-8, 4-11, 5-11) loss was the only bright spot for Telangana as Aman Balgu and Mohammed Ali went down tamely to Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (3-11, 2-11, 3-11) and Harmeet Rajul Desai (5-11, 5-11, 10-12) respectively.
“Feeling very happy to bag a medal after a long gap. It is not a mean achievement given the high standard of the game throughout the country. We congratulate the winners,” the Telangana State Table Tennis Association president and Telangana Bar Council chairman A. Narasimha Reddy said.
Semifinals: PSPB bt Telangana 3-0 (A. Sharath Kamal bt SFR Snehit 3-1 — 11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 11-5; G. Sathiyan bt Aman Balgu 3-0 — 11-3, 11-2, 11-3; Harmeet Desai bt Mohammed Ali 3-0 — 11-5, 11-5, 12-10.
Quarterfinals: Telangana bt Tamil Nadu 3-1 (SFR Snehit bt E. Prabhakaran 3-0 — 12-10, 12-10, 11-4; Mohammed Ali lost to Nitin Thiruvengdam 1-3 — 15-17, 9-11, 11-4, 5-11; Aman Balgu bt Nikhil Suresh 3-2 — 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-0; SFR Snehit bt Nitin 3-1 — 12-14, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5....