UTT Tie 15: Shaze Challengers enter semi finals, bounce back in style against RP-SG Mavericks
UTT Tie 15:
In the last league match before the knockout stage of the Ultimate Table Tennis League, the Shaze Challengers secured a spot in the final four by thrashing the Sharath Kamal led RP-SG Mavericks 15-12 at the NSCI Stadium in Mumbai.
Maverick Sharath Kamal against Challenger Andrej Gacina
— RP-SG Mavericks (@RPSGMavericks) July 27, 2017
The first match was between the leaders of each of the teams, Maverick Sharath Kamal against Challenger Andrej Gacina. The Indian skipper gave the Croatian a nasty shock in the first match with a slew of super serves and forehand topspins as he beat him 11-7. The challenger did redeem himself by beating Kamal 11-1, but succumbed to the expertise of the veteran in game three by losing 11-8.
Sabine Winter clashing with Mouma Das
A similar story ensued in the second match up of the day, which saw Germany’s Sabine Winter clashing with Indian Mouma Das. Das just didn’t have the firepower to keep up with the Maverick, who is currently ranked world no. 45, and lost the first two matches 11-8 and 11-9 respectively. In the third match, however, Das sneaked in a victory by sending a rally of powerful strokes towards the German.
Mixed Doubles Delight
Already on a considerable lead of 4-2, the mixed doubles saw the duo of Sharath Kamal and Sofia Polcanova cement another two points to their lead by beating their opponents Li Pink and Mouma Das by 2-1 with relative ease.
Fegerl vs Gacina
In addition, Austrian offensive player Stefan Fegerl, who had lost all matches in the previous tie for the Mavericks, came back strongly against the Challenger’s captain Gacina. He beat Gacina by a handsome 2-1 victory after committing quite a lot of unforced errors in the first match. The second match saw some dazzling rallies and stellar performances by both players, but it was Stefan who stepped up his game and won 11-7. The playing field was level, and neither of the players intended to lose, which resulted in a nail biting finisher, with both exchanging one point after another. Fegerl proved himself in the end, however, by dispelling the challenge thrown at him by the Croatian to win 11-8.
Sabina strikes again
Riding on the near perfect streak of the Mavericks, Sabine Winter once again conquered the battleground against her fellow countrywoman Petrissa Solja in a 2-1 match. After winning the first game 11-9, she lost her way for a bit in the second game where she lost 11-4, but came back like a true warrior in the third match and defeated Solja 11-6.
Soumyajit outshines Fegerl
— Team Challengers (@TTChallengers) July 18, 2017
At this stage, the Mavericks looked all set to win this tie and dominate the Challengers, but with table tennis, it isn’t over till it’s over. Just when all seemed lost at 10-5, a starry eyed youngster who goes by the name of Soumyajit Ghosh came to the frontline and fought a spirited fight against the Austrian Stefan Fegerl. After losing the first game 11-9, he showed a drastic change in his attitude and went on to steal the victory with a Golden Point, before sealing the third match with a powerful smash and winning 11-6. Gaining this momentum was crucial for both him and his team as it demoralized the opposition, and opened an opportunity to make them bleed.
Han Ying vs Archana Kamath
And bleed they did. The next match was between young Archana Kamath, just 17 years of age and Germany’s Han Ying, who is the top ranked woman player in the UTT at no. 9. Predictably, the German’s proficient defensive as well as offensive skills proved too much for the young and inexperienced Kamath as she went down 3-0.
Other Matches in UTT Tie 15
The Mavericks, slapped by an awful shock, couldn’t find the heart to recover and lost both of their following matches. However, they fought till the very end and didn’t let it show in their style of game that they were defeated. This attitude showed especially in Apolonia’s game against Li Ping, where Ping only won all three games by a point of two.
The fluent Han Ying came back for the last match and helped the Shaze Challengers emerge victorious, with a 2-1 win over Sofia Polcanova. The final score was 15-12 in the Challenger’s favour, and they have now qualified for the semi finals, pitted against the Dabang Smashers on the 29th of July.
Ultimate Table Tennis League Standings as on 28 July 2017
Here is a glance at the table standings as of now, the four top teams having qualified for the semi final stage: