Indian table tennis player Ayhika Mukherjee reached the finals of the ITTF Challenge Belgium Open 2018, winning the silver medal in the Under-21 women’s singles category late on Friday evening.
Anthony Amalraj and Sanil Shetty too fought their way into the medals’ bracket, cornering a bronze in the men’s doubles. Amalraj-Shetty started slowly, losing a tight opening game 10-12 to the Belgian pair of Olav Kosolosky and Laurens Devos. They had a tough second game which they eventually managed to win 15-13.
There was no stopping them thereafter, winning the next two 11-9, 11-6. In the quarterfinals too, they had to use all their experience to ward off the Swedish pair of Viktor Brodd and Simon Berglund. They won the tie 3-1, losing the second game which brought the best out of them.
Up against the daunting Korean pair of Seungmin Cho and Jaehyun An in the semis, the Indian duo fought valiantly but yielded 6-11, 8-11, 7-11 to settle for the bronze medal. In the U-21 category, Ayhika’s momentous run started with a 3-1 win against Poland’s Natalia Bajor in the Round of 32; compatriot Sreeja Akula also beat Alina Nikitchanka of Belarus by a 3-0 margin but Archana Kamath and Moumita Dutta bowed out with defeats.
In the pre-quarters, Ayhika used her pimple effectively to down France’s Audrey Zarif 3-0. Sreeja couldn’t follow suit as she lost out to eventual winner Youjin Kim of Korea. Ayhika dominated the proceedings against Satsuki Odo of Japan, winning the first two games 11-9, 11-9.
She slipped in the third though, going down 4-11 rather quickly. However, she regained her wits to win the last game 11-4 to move into the semifinal round. She lost the first game 6-11. But showed great spirit to win the next three 11-3, 11-7, 11-8 against Hong Kong’s Chengzhu Zhu to enter the finals.
She put up a brave fight but Korea’s Youjin Kim proved to be a tough nut to crack. She lost 1-3 to miss out on the gold but her performance fetched a silver medal.