Rusty Manika Batra records first win on return

Back in competitive action after a year-long break, the Indian table tennis star registered a 4-1 win in the opening round of the senior national championship.

By Naveen Peter

The rustiness in their game due to a year-long absence was evident as the top seeds got down to business in the women’s singles segment at the 82nd Senior National Table Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

At the Tau Devi Lal Indoor Stadium in Panchkula, though there were no major upsets, the higher-ranked players recorded contrasting wins to inch closer to the title.

Top seed Manika Batra, representing the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) beat Kajol Ramjali of Andhra Pradesh 4-1 while defending champion Sutirtha Mukherjee of Haryana got the better of Madhya Pradesh’s Kushi Jain 4-0.

Karnataka’s Archana Kamath had to dig deep against Swastika Ghosh, an independent athlete, for a 4-2 win, while Maharashtra’s Diya Chitale recorded a comfortable 4-0 win over Vidya Narasimhan of Tamil Nadu.

Returning to competitive action after a long break, Manika Batra looked at ease in her opening-round match but the Indian ace was often troubled by her opponent’s controlled forehand. 

However, the 25-year-old Manika Batra, gold medallist from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, overcame the challenge to move into the second round with a 13-11, 11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 11-3 win.

Also struggling in her opening round was the 20-year-old Archana Kamath. Up against Swastika Ghosh, the youngster got off to a poor start by giving away the opening game 15-13. 

In the second, while Archana Kamath found it hard to land her returns, she showed great composure to restore parity and then went 2-1 up by taking the third game before allowing Swastika Ghosh a way back in the fourth. 

The Karnataka player was in her zone in the latter half of the match as she barely allowed her opponent any time to pick shots and won the match 13-15, 12-10, 11-9, 4-11, 13-11, 11-5.

Meanwhile, defending champion Sutirtha Mukherjee won 11-5, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7 in her match against Kushi Jain of Madhya Pradesh.