A victory lap was in order for Achanta Sharath Kamal, as the final ball went out of play to declare him the national champion for a record 10th time on Monday at the 83rd Senior National Table Tennis Championships in Shillong.
The 39-year-old had to overcome a stern test from Gnanasekaran Sathiyan in the final, before making a comeback 4-3 win.
Sharath was trailing Sathiyan 3-1 in the best of seven games contest. But the veteran then took charge of the match to win the remaining three games with a final scoreline of 7-11, 12-10, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-6.
“Tenth is always special, and I will cherish this moment as I did with my first title,” Sharath said, as quoted by PTI.
“Records are meant to be broken, but might take some time as it happened with me when I surpassed Kamlesh Mehta’s eight-time national record.”
This was an appropriate end to a tournament for Sharath, as the competition started off with the horrific news of death of youngster D Vishwa in a car accident while travelling to the venue in Shillong for the nationals.
Sharath had taken the highly-rated teenager under his wing since the pandemic started and was “devastated” when he heard of the tragedy.
Shortly after winning the national title, he took to social media to dedicate it to Vishwa.
In the women’s singles event, 23-year-old Sreeja Akula won the title after beating veteran Mouma Das 4-1 (11-8, 11-13, 12-10, 11-8) to win her first national title after ending as runner-up last year.
Akula later paired up with Ayhika Mukherjee to win the women’s doubles title as well.
Men’s singles final: Achanta Sharath Kamal beat Gnanasekaran Sathiyan 4-3 (7-11, 12-10, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-6)
Men’s doubles: Sourav Saha/Do Rosario Wesley beat Soumyajit Ghosh/Jubin Kumar (4-1) 11-5, 4-11,11-9, 7-11, 11-8
Women’s singles: Akula Sreeja beat Mouma Das 4-1 (11-8, 11-13, 12-10, 11-8, 11-6)
Women’s doubles: Akula Sreeja/Ayhika Mukherjee beat Prapti Sen/Takeme Sarkar 4-0 (3-11, 11-9, 11-5, 12-10)
Mixed doubles: Akash Pal/Prapti Sen bt Soumyajit Ghosh/Suhana Saini (4-0) 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7