New Delhi: Chennai Lions overcame their opening tie debacle to roar to their first win in Ultimate Table Tennis season three, overpowering Puneri Paltan 10-5 on day four at the Thyagaraj Stadium here, Sunday.
Germany’s Petrissa Solja and birthday boy Tiago Apolonia of Portugal were the cynosure of their comprehensive win, setting up the momentum early on. Solja blanked Commonwealth Championship gold medal winner Ayhika Mukherjee 3-0 in the opening women’s singles, while Apolonia staved off a fighting Harmeet Desai of Puneri Paltan 2-1, to hand Chennai the firm advantage (5-1) just two matches into the tie.
Sharath Kamal and Petrissa then eased past Desai and Sabine Winter 2-1 in the mixed doubles, to seal the win in the Lions’ favour. Petrissa helped the Lions’ begin on a strong note, with a 3 -0 win over Ayhika in an intensely fought women’s singles opening encounter.
Although ranked 108 places below world number 26 Solja, Ayhika showed great composure and fighting spirit as she made her opponent sweat in the first game. Fresh from her CWG TT gold medal triumph on Odisha, Ayhika appeared confident and fired up. She raced to a 5-2 lead before Rio Olympic silver medallist Petrissa relied on her experience to pull level at 5-5. From there on, Petrissa showcased some deft touches and superb net play to take a handy 10-8 lead. Ayhika fought back hard and saved two game points before Petrissa finally pocketed the opening game on the golden point (11-10).
The second game began in the same vein, with Petrissa being tested by her younger opponent, who was cheered wildly by the home crowd. Ayhika led 2-0 but thereafter lost her way. Petrissa opened up a huge lead at 10-5 and sealed the game at 11-6. The final game (11-8) too went Petrissa’s way, who survived some anxious moments to stave off a dangerous-looking Ayhika to hand Chennai the early advantage.
Later, in the second men’s singles, Puneri Paltan’s Chuang Chih-Yuan beat Sharath Kamal 2-1 (11-5, 11-10, 3-11) in what was another gripping contest. Despite losing the first two games,
Sharath showcased some delightful shots in the third to reel one point off Chuang. The day’s last match saw Puneri’s Sabine Winter defeat Madhurika Patkar 2-1 of Chennai in the second women’s singles match.
Chennai Lions bt Puneri Paltan: 10-5
Women’s Singles: Petrissa Solja bt Ayhika Mukherjee – 3-0 (11-10, 11-6, 11-8); Men’s Singles: Tiago Apolonia bt Harmeet Desai 2-1 (8-11, 11-10, 11-7); Mixed Doubles: Sharath Kamal- Petrissa Solja bt Harmeet Desai-Sabine Winter 3-0 (11-7, 11-7, 11-6); Men’s Singles: Sharath Kamal lost to Chuang Chih-Yuan 1-2 (5-11, 10-11, 11-3); Women’s Singles : Madhurika Patkar lost to Sabine Winter 1-2 (8-11, 11-5, 11-10).