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Red-hot Harmeet celebrates selection for Arjuna Award with easy entry into semi-finals

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 17 (UNI) Sixth-seed Harmeet Desai was in
red-hot form when he disposed of PSPB mate Subhajit Saha 4-0 to storm
into the semi-finals, sounding a grim warning to the rest on the table
in the UTT National Ranking (South Zone) Table TennisChampionships at
the Jimmy George Indoor Stadium here today.

The paddler from Gujarat, who had played a crucial role in India’s
entry into the Champions Division of the World event last year and
again in a gold-winning cause at the Commonwealth Championships at
Cuttack, celebrated his triumph as the news trickled in about his
selection for the Arjuna Award, to be bestowed on him later this month.

He will take on Soumyajit Ghosh, who is on a comeback trail, in the
second semi-final tomorrow. Ghosh, who won a bronze at the recent
Nigerian Open—he lost to Aruna Qadri—was returning to his old self and
took as little time as possible against No. 2 seed Sudhanshu Grover,
winning the quarterfinal 4-0.

From the top-half, only No. 4 seed Sanil Shetty survived but not
before struggling his way into the semis against Haryana’s Jeet
Chandra, with a 4-2 decision. The left-handed Shetty will meet Tamil
Nadu’s Sushmit Sriram, who accounted for Anirban Ghosh of Railways, in
a tough match that went down to the wire.

Harmeet had all the shots in the book against veteran Saha who failed to put
up the kind of resistance he is known for. The veteran was
found wanting and it made things rather easy for a rampaging Harmeet.

But the best match of the day was played between Sushmit and Anirban.
The gutsy Railways player was down 1-2 but did well to give a jolt to
the Tamil Nadu player when he levelled 3-3 before the lanky Sushmit
sealed his fate in the decider.

As for Shetty, his Haryana rival Jeet was unable to cope with the angled shots
that the PSPB paddler thrived on and wilted after the fourth game when the score
was level. Soumyajit, on the other hand, was well and truly on way to announce
his mainstream return.

Among women, only the seventh-seeded Ayhika Mukherjee remained in the fray
and put it across Maharashtra’s Diya Chitale in a one-sided affair
while the other overnight surviving seed No. 2 Madhurika Patkar was
consumed by the young and talented Diya 4-1 earlier in the

After the way Diya had played against No. 2 seed Madhurika Patkar of
PSPB, one expected the Maharashtra girl to do well, if not repeat the
pre-quarterfinal performance, against No. 7 seeded Ayhika Mukherjee.
But, unfortunately, the seasoned campaigner posted a quick victory.

In the morning, however, Madhurika was awful and unable to counter an
attacking Diya, who had her backhand working well, interspersed with good
forehands. Diya won 5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 to enter the quarterfinals.

Yet, the best women quarterfinal happened to be the one between
Selenadeepthi and Mousumi Paul. The PSPB paddler, despite being
inconsistent, to begin with, roared back to level 3-3 and took the issue
to the decider when the Tamil Nadu paddler upped the ante beat her and
enter the semi-finals. Nevertheless, the surprise pack was left-hander
Shruti Amrute, who beat Anusha Kutumbale 4-2 in a good match.

Results (Quarterfinals):

Men: Sushmit Sriram (TN) bt Anirban Ghosh (RSPB) 11-8, 7-11, 11-7,
11-7, 7-11, 5-11, 11-9; Sanil Shetty (PSPB) bt Jeet Chandra (Har) 11-2,
9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8; Harmeet Desai (PSPB) bt Subhajit Saha (PSPB)
11-8, 11-4, 12-10, 11-6; Soumyajit Ghosh (Har) bt Sudhanshu Grover (PSPB)
12-10, 11-1, 11-4, 11-7.

Women: Senhora D’Souza (BoB) bt Sutirtha Mukherjee (Har) 11-7, 13-11,
10-12, 11-3, 9-11, 11-8; Selenadeepthi Selvakumar (TN) bt Mousumi Paul
(PSPB) 11-7, 11-4, 14-12, 5-11, 8-11, 10-12, 11-9; Shruti Amrute (Mah)
bt Anusha Kutumbale (MP) 12-10, 6-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9; Ayhika Mukherjee
(RBI) bt Diya Chitale (Mah) 11-6, 11-2, 11-5, 11-3.
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