Indian paddlers Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty made it to round two of the qualifiers of the World Table Tennis (WTT) Star Contender Goa, in contrasting fashion. Harmeet ranked 141 in the world, fought off a tough challenge from Englishman Tom Jarvis, ranked above him at 121, in round one of the qualifiers. At the same time, Sanil Shetty (210), also won his round one match quite comfortably against countryman Yashansh Malik.
Harmeet lost the first game but continued to be in the ascendency after that and despite a fight back by Tom, the Indian was able to close out in a tight finish. He won the best of five encounters 3-2 with the scores in his favour reading 9-11,12-10,12-10, 11-13 and 12-10. Sanil in comparison breezed through his match, defeating Yashansh 3-0 (11-3,11-3,11-8) in no time.
Harmeet posts his victory against the Englishman said, "Quite happy that I could win this match because I have played him three times. All previous times it went to the deciders and I lost 9-11 two times and this is the third time and even that was pretty close. But I am happy that I could come out as the winner this time. I hope I can continue my form in the upcoming matches."
In the Mixed Doubles, four teams moved into the main draw after winning both their qualifying rounds. Two of them being Korean pairs.
Snehit Suravajulla and Diya Chitale of India lost to the German pair of Patrick Franziska and Shan Xiaona 1-3 (5-11,5-11,13-11,8-11), who then beat England's Samuel Walker and Ho Tin-Tin 3-1 (11-6,8-11,11-9,11-7), to move to the round of 16.
Also moving into the main draw was the Japanese pair of Mizuki Oikawa and Miyu Nagasaki who beat India's Ronit Bhanja and Sutirtha Mukherjee 3-0 (11-8,11-8,11-8) in round two of qualifying. They had caused one of the major upsets of the day earlier, taking out the French pair of Felix Lebrun and Prithika Pavade 3-2 in round one. The French pair were the top seeds in Mixed Doubles in the qualifiers.
The third Mixed Doubles pair to go through were Cho Daeseong and Nayeong Kim of Korea, who defeated Manush Shah and Sreeja Akula of India 3-2 (3-11,7-11,11-5,11-5,11-9) in round two. Earlier, Manush and Sreeja had won their round one match against compatriots Vidit Desai and Prithoki Chakraborti 3-0 (11-1,11-2,11-5).
Finally, it was Koreans Ganghyeon Park and Hyobin Yoon who became the fourth and final team to make the Mixed Doubles main draw. They beat India's Yashaswini Ghorpade and Payas Jain 3-1 (11-9,11-9,5-11,11-5) in round two. While the Koreans had won over the Romanian pair of Cristian Pletea and Adina Diaconu in round one, Yashaswini and Payas beat compatriots Jeet Chandra and Swastika Ghosh at the same stage.
The first session of the qualifiers also saw some great fights by a couple of young Indian paddlers. The first was by Ronit Bhanja, who went down to 35-year-old towering Czech journeyman Lubomir Jancarik, ranked 114 in the world, 2-3 (11-5,9-11,7-11,11-2,10-12). The second was by Anirban Ghosh, who lost to another seasoned campaigner Romain Ruiz of France. Romain beat a gallant Anirban 3-2 (11-8,11-7,7-11,8-11,11-8) in round one of the qualifiers.
Three rounds of qualifying in singles and two in doubles, spread over two days began official proceedings of the first WTT Star Contender Goa, here at Panaji's Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor stadium.
A total of 200 players from 30 countries will be participating in the WTT Star Contender Goa 2023, which will include at least five top-20 players in both the men's and women's singles main draws. (ANI)