Manika Batra stands tall to pocket second national table tennis title

Indian TT ace Manika Batra rallied from two games down to win her second national title at the 82nd Senior National Table Tennis Championships.

2 min By Naveen Peter
Indian table tennis player Manika Batra is among the 5 recipients of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna this year. Photo: ITTF

Manika Batra forged a comeback to claim the 82nd Senior National Table Tennis Championships title on Thursday after beating Reeth Rishya 4-2 in the final at the Tau Devi Lal Indoor Stadium in Panchkula.

Representing Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), Manika Batra lost her first two games but bounced back to win the match 8-11, 10-12, 11-1, 11-9, 11-5, 11-6.

It was Manika Batra’s second national TT title of her career. She clinched her maiden championship in Hyderabad in 2015 and lost the final to Sutirtha Mukherjee at the 2017 edition in Ranchi.

“I am very happy winning the title here as I had prepared the way I wanted during the last six months,” Manika told the Indian Express. “I played my best in this tournament and thinking that I am the best helped me.”

Reeth Rishya, also from PSPB, was quick to get off the blocks in the final and took the opening game in no time. Though Manika Batra pushed her opponent deep in the second, the 25-year-old Reeth Rishya kept her composure to head into a 2-0 lead.

In the third, there was no catching Manika Batra as the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist brought her best to the fore to win her first game of the final, 11-1.

Later, though Reeth Rishya did well to enjoy the advantage, her inexperience under pressure became her undoing as Manika Batra won eight straight points before drawing parity and then ran away with the match.

This was Reeth Rishya’s second loss to Manika Batra in a title match. She had bowed out the experienced Manika Batra in the final of the 2019 Institutional Championships. Even then, Reeth Rishya was ahead in the tie 3-1 before a determined Manika Batra forged a fine comeback to claim the crown.

The men’s singles event at the Senior National Table Tennis Championships begins on February 20 with the qualifying rounds while the final will be played on February 23.

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