| Poulami Ghatak and Soumyadeep Roy after winning the women’s and men’s finals on Sunday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: He may not be India’s No. 1 table tennis player right now. But Soumyadeep Roy made it clear on Sunday he is not far behind.
Soumyadeep was just too good for the current No. 1 Sharath Kamal, beating him 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7 in the men’s final of the East Zone table tennis championships at the SAI Eastern Centre.
Poulami Ghatak clinched her third title of the year beating Mamta Prabhu in the women’s final 11-5, 11-7, 11-9, 11-6.
Soumyajit Sarkar won the boys’ crown, defeating Subhadeep Das 11-7, 6-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-8 while Anushree Saha downed Sayantika Kundu 12-10, 7-11, 13-15, 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 in the girls’ final.
But Soumyadeep was surely the star of the show. He lost the first game 6-11 and started a little shakily in the second. But he started to get his range of shots going, pushing Kamal to the back-hand corner. He also looked extremely good in third-ball kills. Kamal found it difficult to return Soumyadeep’s serves and the Bengal boy pounced for the kill.
As the game wore on, Kamal’s unforced errors increased, allowing Soumyadeep to take complete charge.
In the third game, Kamal was up 8-5 but a string of unforced errors and some superb shots by Soumyadeep helped him take the game 11-8.
Soumyadeep lost a similar lead in the next game going down 10-12.
Thereafter, it was one-way traffic. There were flashes of the Kamal brilliance that has made him the top player, but the power and precision of Soumyadeep was too hot to handle.
“Of late there has been a lot of criticism about my form. I decided this is the best way to prove the critics wrong,” Soumyadeep said.
The former India No. 1 felt the focus was just right. He also felt that his recent stint in Sweden has given a boost to his confidence. “My club in Sweden had the rare opportunity to practice with the members of Jan-Ove Waldner’s club.
“Though I never got to practice with Waldner himself, those sessions have really been helpful,” Soumyadeep informed.
In women’s final, Prabhu was no match for Poulami. An improved backhand and the heavy top-spin shots helped Poulami win in straight games, which incidentally is her third title. She has also won the West Zone and South Zone titles, the only failure being the Central.
MEN’S: Soumyadeep Roy (PSPB/CoE) bt Sharath Kamal (PSPB) 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7. WOMEN’S: Poulami Ghatak (PSPB/CoE) bt Mamta Prabhu (Railways) 11-5, 11-7, 11-9, 11-6. JUNIOR BOYS’: Soumyajit Sarkar (SAI/CoE) bt Subhadeep Das (SAI/CoE) 11-7, 6-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-8. JUNIOR GIRLS’: Anushree Saha (SAI/CoE) bt Sayantika Kundu (Bengal) 12-10, 7-11, 13-15, 11-4, 11-7, 11-4.
Junior Bengal squad
TTFI accepted the entry of the Bengal squad for the forthcoming junior nationals in Kochi from Thursday after a lot of controversy. The TTFI authorities informed the squad had to be named by November 17, but the BTTA did not send the names at the right time.
“Finally the names were sent today and we considered it looking at the future of the players,” a TTFI official said.
The BTTA authorities however claimed the names were sent at the right time.
Boys: Chiranjib Chowdhury, Niloy Basak, Sourav Pradhan, Soumya Nandy, Abhishek Mukherjee. Girls: Runa Roy, Sayantika Kundu, Soumi Mondal, Munni Laha, Riya Dasgupta.
Coach: Pradip Samanta