India’s star player Manika Batra suffered a twin blow on day three of Ultimate Table Tennis as RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata slumped to a massive 4-11 defeat against Goa Challengers in New Delhi on Saturday.
Batra first capitulated 0-3 in the opening women’s singles encounter to Archana Kamath, handing the 19-year-old the biggest victory of her fledgling career. India’s highest-ranked women’s singles player then lost 1-2 in her mixed doubles match, pairing with World No 55 Benedikt Duda, to see her team RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata slide to a huge defeat.
The Goan team rode on Kamath’s early coup to demolish a seemingly strong Mavericks in each of the first four clashes, with Spain’s Alvaro Robles and Amalraj Anthony/Cheng I-Ching scoring 2-1 wins in the men’s singles and mixed doubles.
India’s Amalraj followed up his good show with another upset, beating Germany’s Duda in the second men’s singles. Earlier, Kamath started the victory march for the Challengers as she picked up a stunning win over Bartra. The teenager got off to a fiery start, racing to a 5-2 lead.
Batra launched a strong comeback and levelled the scores 7-7 with an exotic forehand smash, but Archana was in no mood to squander her chance and she raced to game point with a powerful forehand return. Batra managed to save one game point but Archana eventually closed down the game 11-9. The Challengers player was on a roll in the second game, cruising to a 7-4 lead.
Batra did try to cut down the lead but Kamath was all over her and pocketed the game 11-7 with ease. Having already lost the match, Mavericks would have wanted their star player to salvage at least a point but Kamath looked like a player possessed and sealed the game 11-3 to clinch all three points on offer.
Mavericks’s strategy to field Sanil Shetty against Alvaro Robles also did not pay off as the Spaniard came from behind to deliver two points for his team.
The opening game of the match lived up to the expectations with both the players involved in exquisite stroke-making and exciting long rallies. Shetty won the opening game 11-10 and logged in the first point of the evening for the last year’s runners-up.
But the World No 56 came out a different player in the second game and Sanil had no answers and went down 4-11. The script did not change much in the final game as Robles cantered to a comfortable 11-5 victory to seal the match.
With a healthy lead of 5-1 after two matches, Challengers’ skipper Amalraj Anthony paired up with the highest ranked player of the league this season – Cheng I-Ching – in the mixed doubles encounter against the team of Manika Batra and debutant Benedikt Duda.
Mavericks won the opening game 11-8 and it looked like things could turn around for them. But the Goan pair got their act together to win the next two games 11-4 and 11-9 to swell the lead to 7-2 in their team’s favour.
With just a point away from sealing the tie, Amalraj made no mistake, and despite starting on the backfoot in his men’s singles clash against Duda, he won the opening game 11-7 to all but wrap up the contest.
Duda won the next game 11-10 but the Indian came back strongly to win the final game 11-4. Cheng then stepped up to in the last rubber of the tie against World No 25 Matilda Ekholm and completed the rout as she picked up a rather comfortable 2-1 victory.