Ultimate Table Tennis 2017: Shaze Challengers defeat DHFL Maharashtra United but no joy for Indian players
World No 37 Fu Yu and World No 8 Wong Chun Ting both came back strongly to beat the Indian players of the Shaze Challengers.
It was a tie consisting of incredible comebacks from the foreign players of DHFL Maharashtra United team as they went down fighting to the Shaze Challengers by 15-12. World No 37 Fu Yu and World No 8 Wong Chun Ting both came back strongly in the deciding game of their women’s and men’s singles matches respectively to beat the Indian players of the Challengers. This was one of the rare occasions in the Ultimate Table Tennis league that the Indian players failed to win a single match owing to the fabulous fighting spirit shown by the foreign players.
In the second match of the tie, Fu Yu was up against India’s Mouma Das in the women’s singles. Mouma played a very strong game and looked set to win her first match of the campaign as she led by 7-2 in the final game. Mouma, with a short-pimpled rubber on her forehand, played an attacking game punching a lot of the balls from the forehand and backhand side.
In between these powerful strokes, she added a bit of guile by hitting deceptive slow strokes, as well as placing the ball to Fu Yu’s forehand corner. Her blocking game against Fu Yu’s spin strokes was also fabulous as she looked to gain the upper hand even when Fu Yu hit the first attack.
Mouma looked set to win as she was outplaying Fu Yu in the third game. However, Fu Yu fought bravely as a slew of unforced errors from Mouma coupled with good rally play from Fu Yu saw her win an incredible nine points on the trot as she came back to win the game and match by 11-7.
In the other comeback of the evening, United's Wong overturned a 4-9 deficit in the final and deciding game of his match against India’s Soumyajit Ghosh. Recently, Wong had a rather dismal run as he had lost three of his last four matches. The awful form looked set to haunt Wong for long as he struggled throughout the tie with his timing of the ball. Too often it looked as if he was playing a passive game.
Ghosh played a pretty deceptive game, making good use of his wrist to change the trajectory of his strokes at the last moment. Ghosh won the second game by a score of 11-2 and he looked set to repeating the score in the decider as he ran away to a 7-2 lead, and then a 9-4 lead. Wong was looking very uncomfortable and on occasions was trying to power through the game. But with Ghosh intelligently changing the spin and speed of the game, Wong wasn’t able to find his rhythm at all.
But Wong, being a top-ranked player, kept persevering and played a more rally game to come back strong. Ghosh also seemed to have become nervous as he attempted to close out the match. At 9-9, Ghosh served and turned blind, trying to get the upper hand by attacking with his strong forehand. But Wong was alert as he saw Ghosh turn, and hit a lovely backhand flick towards his now open forehand side.
At 10-9, he repeated the same stroke. Although Ghosh was in position this time, he failed to counter the side spin and push effect, which was imparted by Wong in his backhand flick. Wong won an amazing seven points on the trot to clinch the tie.
It became apparent that Ghosh’s nerves and Wong’s calm demeanour helped that latter win the tie, rather than a return to rhythm. Wong once again struggled in his next match against Li Ping, which he lost by 1-2.
The Challengers captain Andrej Gacina was in top form as he overcame the challenges from both India’s Harmeet Desai and the rival captain Joao Monteiro. He played a dominating game against Desai winning 3-0 while he beat Montiero by 2-1.
Han Ying of the Shaze Challengers kept her perfect record — she has won all the matches she has played so far in the Ultimate Table Tennis league. She first beat Pooja Sahasrabudhe in a very comfortable match by 3-0 and then went on to beat Fu Yu by 2-1 in the last match of the tie.
With this match, all the teams have now played four matches each and all teams have a chance to qualify for the semi-finals. The Falcons TTC look set to qualify with ease as they stand head and toe above the others with 61 points, while the Shaze Challengers are second with 58 points. It’s all to play for in the last three ties of the UTT with the focus shifting to the third-stage matches in Mumbai, and the last tie at Delhi due to be played between the Dabang Smashers TTC and Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas.
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