Alappuzha (Kerala) | The Kerala girls routed Tamil Nadu 3-0 in the quarterfinals of the 76th Junior National and Youth Table Tennis Championships at the SDV Centenary Auditorium here today.
The hosts will take on Telangana, who scrapped past depleted reigning champions West Bengal 3-2, in the semifinal tomorrow.
For the record, Telengana are making their maiden national appearance.
The other semifinal will pit Maharashtra A against their B team in the Junior Girls category as the former defeated Andhra Pradesh 3-0 while Maharashtra’s B team downed Karnataka in straight games without a whimper.
The Kerala girls, with the most experienced Maria and the promising Seraha in their ranks, did not have to sweat it out much against an equally tough Tamil Nadu, which had the likes of Selenadeepthi and Harshavardhini for the singles and doubles specialist Yashini.
Yet, the host team, with crowd backing, not only won their matches but also several local hearts.
Seraha began well against Selena to set the ball rolling for Kerala even as Maria cashed in on the team 1-0 lead to beat Harshavardhini, who was off colour against the experienced Maria. Then what surprised everyone was the way the Tamil Nadu girls wilted under pressure after having led 2-0 in the doubles.
The hosts, on the other hand, staged a fine comeback and egged on by the crowd went from strength to strength.
Telengana had a bit of a problem with Sreeja unable to execute her shots as well on the day. So the pressure was palpably on Naina to double up for Sreeja’s inability. Naina won both her singles, against Shobabti Moitra (11-7, 10-12, 11-7, 11-3) and Prapti Sen (6-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7), which in the end proved crucial for Telengana.
Sreeja, however, managed to put it across in her reverse singles against Shobabti, winning the rubber in straight games.
As for Maharashtra, the A and B teams sailed into the semifinals without a hiccup as the A team, comprising Payal Bohra, Shruti Amruti and Ashlesha Trehan, defeated a depleted Andhraafter the splitwhile the B team were in the good hands of Manasi Chhajed and Mansi Chiplunkar with doubles specialist Shrushi Hallengadi to boot.
Meanwhile, continuing its clean-up drive on age-related issue, the TTFI debarred West Bengals Priyanka Ganguly for having submitted two age-proof certificates. She was one of the replacement entries sent in by the WBTTA and was part of the West Bengal team.
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