TTSL TN – FINALS
The final of the first edition of Table Tennis Super League was played at the central Atrium of Forum mall between the teams : Hindustan King Pongs and Time Links Mobie Chargers.
The teams had been through tough and difficult matches and now were one step away from becoming champions.
Women’s Singles | Swetha Kumaravel vs Krithicka S
The first match of the finals was the Women’s singles.
Swetha Kumaravel from Hindustan King Pong going up against Krithicka S from Mobie chargers.
The first set started with Krithicka taking the game to Swetha, allowing swetha to make mistakes and capitalizing on them. She won the first set 11-8 with a volley that left Swetha speechless.
Krithicka followed the same strategy as the first set in the second set and took the game to Swetha’s side of the court. Swetha started to slowly ahead due to a series of unforced errors from Krithicka’s part and the score board read 6-3 when mobie chargers called for a technical time out. Once the game resumed the score was tied at 9 all with a power shot that barely clipped the court from Krithicka, Swetha quickly built up on the two consecutive shots and won the set 11-9.
Third set had Swetha build up a 4-0 lead which was then won back by a stellar show by Krithicka with a court beater making the equalizing shot, the court was rapturous at this point at the display of the class of game. The game continued with each other players scoring one point each, to the extend that the players were now playing one court length away from the court, trying to outfox the other, Swetha messed up the spike that intended to shut down Krithicka and followed it up with two unforced errors that saw the set goto Krithicka. 11-8
When the fourth set began both the players went at each others throat, tying the score at 4 each. Krithicka started to bleed points there on out due to unforced errors and sound technical plays from Swetha. Krithicka started to go on the offensive when she should have been playing a more restraint role, as was told to me by the coach of Billroth Blasters, who had become my translator of what was happening in front of me. Swetha won the set 11-5 and evened the score.
Both ladies dropped their defence and went on the attack to score those elusive two point lead and keep it. The match started to heat up as both players served each other with top spin volley that had to be returned with a top spin volley. The game had reached 9 all stalemate, the tension was palpable in the air. Krithicka won the set 12-10 and the match as she forced Swetha to make a rudimentary mistake.
Time Link Mobie Chargers were 1 game up.
Men’s singles | Santhosh Vs Anandhraj
Both the players were evenly matched in speed and power. Santhosh’s Achilles heel this entire tournament has been his unrestrained speed and power, that could have won him the set had he showed some care. Anandhraj baited Santhosh in beautifully and made him attempt ludicrous shots that only ended up furthering the lead that Anandhraj had built up. He finally won the set 11-6.
The second set had Santhosh try to best Anandhraj by smashing the ball into his court or by using the spin to force an error from him, but his speed and aggressiveness was a double-edged sword which, because it was not wielded correctly, ended up scratching him more than it did get him points. Santhosh had a moment in the game where he could have smashed the ball across the court and away from Anandhraj, but his timing was off and he ended up hitting it into the end, giving the set to Anandraj 11-5.
The pattern repeated in the third set. Santhosh has power, but he cannot control it yet, which sounded more like the origin story of a superhero rather than the description of a Table Tennis player. Santhosh lost more points than he could and all Anandhraj had to do was wait and let the younger player make a mistake. Anadhraj did lose the plot for a bit as he started to give points by trying to rush the ending of the game, the score went from being 4 all to being 8-4 to being 10-8. A final volley that missed from Santhosh ended the set and the match went to Anandhraj and the Hindustan King Pongs.
The scores were now tied with the Hindustan King Pong and Time link Mobie Chargers having won one game each.
Men’s singles, Juniors | Piyush G Sagar Vs Arjun K Raju
Piyush, as we’ve been reporting for the last three days, is a power house who will one day carry the tricolor. His understanding of the game is beyond reproach and his temperament when facing his rivals is one of calmness, he doesn’t get riled up, he thinks about his actions and lets his spin speak for itself. His footwork is impeccable, as he tries to make every ball go in the direction it doesn’t want to. The first of their encounter had Piyush dominating the match, not allowing for a single point from the side of Arjun. Piyush won the set 11-2.
Arjun started the second set by pushing hard on Piyush and accrued a lead, which was soon lost when he started to force the issue. With the score tied at 4 each, Arjun tried to push into Piyush, who returned the service back with an extra spin that made the ball fly off into the corner when touched. Arjun had to place the ball to make it move back into Piyush’s court. A task which was difficult in the best of times, let alone in the middle of a finals. Piyush won the set 11-8.
Piyush started the third set with energy and made Arjun work for the few points that he managed to eek out. Arjun started to pull ahead, before he started to give them all away because of an aggressive stance that he took up, much to the displeasure of his coach. The match had so many cuts and spins, that it soon became impossible to keep track of them all. Piyush won the set 11-6 and with it the match.
With this Team Links Mobie Chargers had one game up on Hindustan King Pong. 2-1.
Seniors mixed doubles | Krithicka, Santhosh Vs Swetha, Anandraj
The match began and it was pretty evident that the team from Mobie Chargers had the number of Swetha and Anandraj. A shot in particular had Krithicka force a shot on Swetha which she misread as a spin and played it accordingly, only to have the ball careen off. The whole set was a battle of wits as neither side gave any lee-way. The match got decided when Santhosh played his trade mark super risky shot, back to back, netting them the set 11-8 .
The second set saw Krithicka and Santhosh leading the charge and the game, taking it to the pair from Hindustan King Pong. The game was slowly slipping away from them, however, as Santhosh started to play his super high risk – high reward shots and Anandraj started to trap him in his own speed ending the game with a massive volley down the center line of Mobie Chargers.
The third set was a disturbingly good show of table tennis, as the team from Hindustan knew what made the latter tick and were attacking them where it hurt the most. The score was even at 4-4 but once the Mobie Chargers started to lose points there was no stopping that train. Hindustan King Pong won their second set with a score of 11-5.
This was the set that Mobie Chargers had to win. Anandraj served Santhosh with shots that he could not resist smashing and when he did, the ball didn’t touch the court before ending up on the floor. Mobie Chargers quickly called for a time out to strategize and to find a way to get back at Hindustan King Pongs. Santhosh started to want to spin the ball, Ma Long seemed to have inspired him. But his control was all over the place and for every ball that gave him a point, three did not.
Towards the end of the set, Santhosh ran towards the court to hit the ball and slammed his gut into it. It looked painful. When the match was at 10-9, Hindustan King Pongs called for their time out, when they did come out of it, Anandraj smashed a volley into the gut of Santhosh, winning them the set 11-8 and the match.
Hindustan King Pongs were now on equal footing with Time Link Mobie Chargers.
Women’s Single, Junior | Yazhini M vs N Deepika.
Yazhini is a strong, offensive player who takes the game to her opponent from Mobie Chargers. Yazhini employs a lot of cuts in her shot selection which when works easily earns her points, but when it doesn’t makes her lose points just as easily. Yazhini was in the lead for the majority of the set. With the score sitting at 7-5 it was looking like Hindustan had this set in their pocket, when Yazhini started to lose points and nothing she did could stop it. Deepika capitalized on it and won the set 11-9.
The second set had a much more calm and collected Yazhini facing Deepika, she knew when to push and when to pay attention to the shot selection from Deepika, she was not as easily taken in by the guile employed by Deepika. She started to make Deepika work up a sweat as a controlled, restrained, Yazhini smashed and forced errors from Deepika, winning the set 11-7.
The third set had Deepika take the lead and started to run with it, the score board once showing 6-1 to Deepika, Yazhini started to stage a come back, notching 3 points in quick succession, but Deepika started to bring in a higher class of technical Table Tennis, that sent Yazhini’s receive flying away. Deepika won the set 11-8.
The fourth set brought out the best from both the ladies, within three serves Yazhini served a shot to the left of Deepika which caught her unawares as she was expecting a return to come straight to her. The game proceeded with neither side giving any quarter. Deepika finally started to whack the ball to Yazhini to even out the score at 11 each. When the team in black called for a time out. When they returned, Yazhini makes a couples of errors that were both from poor judgement and because of letting the stress of the finals get to her.
Deepika won the set 13-11.
With this win Time Link Mobi Chargers are one game up on Hindustan King Pongs 3-2.
Cadet Boys | Ashmith Rajkumar vs Snajay K Mahadevan
The next match was between Ashmith Rajkumar and Sanjay K Mahadevan in the cadet finals. Both these young gentlemen are masters of the game, playing at a level that defies logic and explanation. These two will become the names of the game in the future, if their training and passion keep continuing.
Theirs was a dance between two kindred spirits.
The first set started with both the players trying to even out the score, for each point that Ashmith scored, Sanjay equalized. The score was tied at 4 each when Ashmith started to fire up his engines and took the score to 8-4 in under a minute and the crowd knew that they had a game in their hands. Ashmith started force errors on the part of Sanjay and Sanjay started to reply with balls that had enough spin on them that they went out of the play area more than once. The first set was decided in a jiffy when Sanjay lost a couple of easy points to the youngster from Hindustan.
The second set was a text book table tennis performance. Every single shot selection was beautiful, every single service was a treat to watch and the receives getting love from everyone watching the game. It was like watching two young wizards dueling it out. Each no better than the other, each as committed as the other, each as passionate as the other. The game was even, with both the champs having 11 points each, when Sanjay opened full throttle and forced Ashmith to make a couple of mistakes that let to him winning the set 13-11.
The third set was a copy of the two preceding ones. Two young turks who were fighting against each other everything they had, showing a good match for the audience. The match so invigorating that the people who were on their mobiles, put them down and started to pay attention to the match. Such was their ferocity, their drive. Sanjay’s straight drives had his coach look at him like he was the next world champion, which I dont think, is that big a reach for this young warrior. The score was 7-8 Ashmith when the Mobi Chargers called for a time out. The coach seemed to have given him that extra weapon he needed, which was to spin the ball like Piyush and Santhosh before him, to win against Ashmith and Sanjay ended the set winning it 11-8.
The fourth set was won by Ashmith with a score of 11-9
The fifth set was the best set of the entire series, it had the crowd on their feet. It had the coaches on their feet. IT had the casual shoppers who were taking a break stand up on their feet.
Each of the two boys did not give a way for the other to strike first and establish a lead on the other. The score was tied at 5 each. When Sanjay started to push at Ashmith. Driving home smashes after smash. Sanjay started to take the lead from Ashmith and the score was 6-4, when Ashmith came back from behind to take the lead and win the set ( 11-8 ) and with it win the match and equalize the team standings.
With this both Time Link Mobie Chargers and Hindustan King Pongs have two games each under their belt.
Men’s Doubles | Anandaraj with Rajesh Vs Jaikumar with S Santhosh Kumar
The first set was an even match with both the team getting a point and losing a point, with no one getting a clear lead over the other. Santhosh was the same as usual going for the high reward high risk plays and getting some points here and there, but the resourcefulness of Rajesh made sure that he couldn’t follow it up with a lead. Jaikumar started to hit miss the ball, getting played by Rajesh. The first set went to the team from Hindustan King Pongs with a score of 11-9.
The second set saw Jaikumar and Santhosh starting on the back foot as the team from Hindustan started to develop a lead over them. Anything that was attempted by Mobi Chargers were shut down by Rajesh and Anandhraj. The anger that was being emanated by Santhosh was felt by every sitting court side. Jaikumar felt it as well and started to channel that into his strokes and smashes that saw them take the set with straight wins. 11-9.
The third set had Rajesh and Anandhraj take the lead over Jaikumar and Santhosh, who then pushed back and brought the set 9 points for each. Santhosh started to choose shots that were flashy and initially gave him some quick points but his continuous use led to the speed being used against him and he started to find the net more than he did the other court. The score was however tied at 10 each, but two continuous errors from Jaikumar and Santhosh saw them lose the set. 12-10.
Fourth set had the team from Hindustan King pong have a lead over the team from mobi Chargers, as the set progressed the team work between Rajesh and anandhraj got better while the team work between Jaikumar and Santhosh went beyond the point of no return, with there being shots that neither attempted or shots which both them attempted. There was no coming back for them after that and Hindustan King Pongs won the set 11-6 and the match with it
With that victory Hindustan King Pongs were One game ahead of Time Link Mobie Chargers, with the next game a must win for them if they were to have any hopes of winning the finals.
The spin wizard of Piyush Sagar teamed up with Deepika to counter the team from Hindustan King Pong, Arjun K Raju and Yazhini M.
The first set went the way of the team from Mobie Chargers. 13-11. Yazhini and Arjun had the lead for the first half of the set, but when Piyush started to get into his groove he started to turn the ball from one corner of the court to the other end. Yazhini started to take matters into her hands and started to receive the smashes from Piyush allowing for Arjun start smashing the ball into the court of the opponents. The push from Yazhini and Arjun was shortlived as Deepika started to force them in their own speed and turn.
The second set saw both the teams equally matched. The game held the even factor till they were 12 all, when Piyush tried to force the issue and got the ball stuck in the net, giving Yazhini and Arjun the lead which they capitalized on and won the set 14-12.
The third set, Yazhini and Arjun were forcing the issue onto Piyush and Deepika, making them play a defensive style of game which was not their style at all. Arjun who had been playing defensive and taking it slow, was now attacking the ball with an unleashed fervor. Deepika and Piyush were at wits end as they tried to break through this newly energized Arjun, who eventually won the set for Hindustan, score of 11-9.
In the fourth set, Piyush tried to force a lead over his opponents, but the ball did not respond to the way he wanted it to. It wasn’t surprising when Hindustan King Pongs won the set 11-7, and with that the finals of the inaugural edition of Table Tennis Super League – Tamil Nadu ( TTSL – TN)