From the publishers of THE HINDU

Vol. 24 :: No. 35 :: Sep. 01 - 07, 2001

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TABLE TENNIS/INTER-INSTITUTIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Soumyadeep Roy, Mouma Das stay on top

S. SABANAYAKAN

SOUMYADEEP ROY of Petroleum Sports Control Board (PSCB), the National champion underlined his new found status as the best player in the country by yet again mastering the master of all these years Chetan P. Baboor in the men's singles final.

S. PATRONOBISH
Soumyadeep Roy, the men's singles winner.

And for little Mouma Das, also of PSCB, the reigning queen, the retaining of the women's title for the second year meant pushing back all the disappointment she suffered at the Cuttack Nationals as well as in the first tournament of the season, the National Ranking (East) meet.

The five-day 31st all-India inter-institutional table tennis championship that concluded at the Khudiram Indoor Hall, Kolkata, on August 7, saw the Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) enjoying a momentous moment by stunning the holder in the men's team championship, PSCB, after seven years. And the Railway women regained the title once again, stopping PSCB for the second year.

By all account, the championship, organised by the Ordnance Factory Sports Control Board, was well contested. It had all the stars of Indian table tennis excepting S. Raman, who had to give it a skip owing to a bereavement in his family. The Table Tennis Federation of India played the championship under the 11-point rule with 40mm balls.

Seeded second, Soumyadeep Roy, who was picked for the PSCB Academy in Ajmer from New Barrackpur in North 24 Parganas of Bengal, proved that his victory over top-ranked Chetan P. Baboor at the Nationals was no fluke, by conquering the Bangalorean at 2-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 in a one-sided final. The victory meant that Roy has won two tournaments back to back in Kolkata, the first one being the National Ranking (East).

Third-seeded Mouma showed appreciable improvement in her game by outsmashing the top seed N. R. Indu, also of PSCB, in a lop-sided women's final. Mouma won 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7. Mouma had beaten Indu in last year's final in Indore. In fact, it was a grand double for Mouma. With Poulami Ghatak as partner she won the women's doubles crown, beating the third-seeded Railway duo of Mamta Prabhu and Sushmita Roy at 11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6.

S. PATRONOBISH
Mouma Das, winner of the women's singles crown.

The men's doubles crown went to the third-seeded team of Ranabir Das and Sourav Chakraborty of Railways. On the losing side was the top-seeded Bank Sports Board pair of Deepak Thukral and Vineet Chopra which lost at 11-8, 16-14, 12-10.

K. Srivatsa Chakravarthy and T. Pradeepa of Tamil Nadu won the mixed doubles title, introduced for the first time in this championship, by defeating Jayanta Chandra and Sinjini Mitra of Centre of Excellence, Kolkata, 17-15, 11-3, 10-12, 11-4.

When Baboor took the first game quickly, there were many who thought the top seed would just bulldoze his way to the title. The well-built Roy, showing enormous power and monumental concentration, was not to be denied his place under the sun as he slowly but steadily neutralised Baboor's game with a planned and purposeful display. Roy, who lives and plays in Sweden like Baboor, is certainly the player to watch in the coming years.

Mouma was free of any burden and played her shots without any inhibition. In fact, it was Indu who was under pressure to justify her seeding as the best woman player in the country. Mouma played the flat smashes on both flanks, kept the pressure on Indu's backhand and gained many points. Indu could not counter the attack on her backhand, for she neither had the flick nor the block to reverse the trend. Indu looked a beaten finalist throughout the short encounter.

Since PSCB entered the championship eight years back, its men's team has been winning the honours.

Runner-up last year, Railways' men's team rose to the occasion magnificently this time to stop the holder PSCB by three games to two in a three-and-a-half hour long battle. Railway women had a comparatively easy outing in the women's championship, defeating PSCB 3-2.

Railways' men showed tremendous team spirit. The turning point, obviously, was the defeat of the third singles player Soumyadeep Roy to Bhusan Thakur. Roy was beaten in five games at 11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9. Even then PSCB had a very good chance of keeping the title, but Railways' Subham Chowdhury produced a terrific display to defeat a much higher ranked Subhajit Saha in three games at 11-8, 11-3, 13-11 to ensure that Railways took the most coveted trophy.

Baboor won both his matches, beating Chowdhury in the opening match at 9-11, 11-3, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5 and Ranabir Das at 6-11, 11-8, 11-4, 8-11, 11-7 in the fourth game. Apart from the fifth match loss, Subhajit Saha failed to win the second match against Das at 5-11, 7-11, 11-8, 12-10, 7-11.

PSCB women, flaunting all internationals in its ranks, lost owing to its top player N. R. Indu's poor form. Indu lost her second and fifth matches to let her team down. Mouma Das gave PSCB a flying start by handing young Sushmita Roy a 11-13, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8 defeat, Railways' most senior player Anindita Chakraborty beat Indu at 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5 to turn the match in favour of Railways. Another youngster, Mamta Prabhu, convincingly downed National champion Poulami Ghatak at 4-11, 11-6, 11-7, 4-11, 11-5. Even then the contest looked in the pocket of PSCB.

Mouma expectedly beat Anindita at 8-11, 3-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5, recovering from a two-game loss. At this juncture, it looked PSCB would avenge last year's defeat when Indu took on an inexperienced Sushmita in the contest clincher. Sushmita not only stood the test well but heaped a humiliating 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 defeat on Indu to help Railways keep the honours.

Men's singles: final: (2) Soumyadeep Roy (PSCB) bt (1) Chetan P. Baboor (PSCB) 2-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6. Semifinals: Baboor bt Subham Chowdhury (Rly) 11-4, 18-16, 13-11, 11-4; Roy bt Anirban Nandy (Rly) 11-8, 13-11, 11-4, 6-11, 7-11, 11-9. Quarterfinals: Baboor bt (8) Sourav Chakraborty (Rly) 11-7, 11-3, 11-7, 11-7; Chowdhury bt (4) Shibaji Dutta (PSCB) 12-10, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-13, 11-8; Nandy bt Arup Basak (PSCB) 11-7, 12-10, 11-7, 16-14; Roy bt (7) Bhusan Thakur (Rly) 9-11, 11-5, 8-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-5.

Women's singles: final: (3) Mouma Das (PSCB) bt (1) N. R. Indu (PSCB) 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7. Semifinals: Indu bt (5) Mantu Ghosh (PSCB) 11-6, 7-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9; Mouma bt (2) Poulami Ghatak (PSCB) 11-8, 11-3, 11-9, 11-6. Quarterfinals: Indu bt (8) Anindita Chakraborty (Rly) 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6; Mantu bt (4) M. S. Mythili (PSCB) 12-10, 11-7, 11-3, 2-11, 11-7; Mouma bt Vishakha Vijay (Bih) 11-5, 10-12, 14-12, 0-11, 11-6, 11-5; Poulami bt (7) Kasturi Chakraborty (PSCB) 11-8, 12-10, 11-6, 11-8.

Men's doubles: final: (3) Ranabir Das and Sourav Chakraborty (Rly) bt (1) Deepak Thukral and Vineet Chopra (BSB) 11-8, 16-14, 12-10. Semifinals: Thukral and Chopra bt Swapan Bose and Amit Mukherjee (MPSCB) 11-9, 12-10, 12-10; Das and Chakraborty bt Tanmoy Dutta and Subhadip Das (Ben) 3-11, 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8.

Women's doubles: final: (1) Poulami Ghatak and Mouma Das (PSCB) bt (3) Mamta Prabhu and Sushmita Roy (Rly) 11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6. Semifinals: Poulami and Mouma bt (4) Anindita Chakraborty (Rly) and Mantu Ghosh (PSCB) 13-11, 11-4, 11-9; Mamta and Sushmita bt (2) N. R. Indu and M. S. Mythili (PSCB) 11-4, 10-12, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7.

Mixed doubles: final: K. S. Chakravarthy and T. Pradeepa (T.N.) bt Jayanta Chandra and Sinjini Mitra (CoE, Kolkata) 17-15, 11-3, 10-12, 11-4. Semifinals: Chandra and Sinjini bt R. Rajesh (LIC) and N. R. Indu (PSCB) 11-7, 5-11, 13-15, 11-8, 11-5; Chakravarthy and Pradeepa bt (2) Subhajit Saha and M. S. Mythili (PSCB) 11-5, 5-11, 11-9, 11-6.

Team championship - Men: final: RSPB bt PSCB 3-2 (Subham Chowdhury lost to Chetan P. Baboor 11-9, 3-11, 11-5, 7-11, 5-11; Ranabir Das bt Subhajit Saha 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 11-7; Bhusan Thakur bt Soumyadeep Roy 11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9; Das lost to Baboor 11-6, 8-11, 4-11, 11-8, 7-11; Chowdhury bt Saha 11-8, 11-3, 13-11). Semifinals: PSCB bt BSB 3-0 (S. Saha bt V. Chopra 11-4, 12-10, 11-4; S. Roy bt J. Jaiswal 7-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-9; C. Baboor bt D. Thukral 10-12, 11-2, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5); RSPB bt LIC 3-1 (B. Thakur lost to R. Rajesh 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8, 5-11; R. Das bt M. Thakur 11-9, 11-9, 11-3; S. Chowdhury bt V. Vaiswade 11-6, 11-8, 2-11, 11-7; Das bt Rajesh 11-7, 3-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7).

Women: final: RSPB bt PSCB 3-2 (Sushmita Roy lost to Mouma Das 13-11, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 8-11; Anindita Chakraborty bt N. R. Indu 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5; Mamta Prabhu bt Poulami Ghatak 4-11, 11-6, 11-7, 4-11, 11-5; Anindita lost to Mouma 11-8, 11-3, 8-11, 6-11, 5-11; Sushmita bt Indu 11-5, 11-9, 11-4). Semifinals: RSPB bt DASCB 3-0 (Sushmita Roy bt Tapasi Chakraborty 12-10, 4-11, 11-3, 11-4; Anindita Chakraborty bt Madhumita Guin 11-5, 11-5, 8-11, 9-11, 11-6; Mamta Prabhu bt Swapna Mitra 11-4, 11-3, 11-6); PSCB bt LIC 3-0 (Poulami Ghatak bt Avanti Sinha 11-8, 11-6, 13-11; Mantu Ghosh bt Chandrani Ganguly 10-12, 11-7, 11-5, 12-10; M.S. Mythili bt Deepali Purania 11-7, 11-8, 11-9).

No ping pong diplomacy this

THE Table Tennis Federation of India's (TTFI) decision to disqualify the Bank Sports Control Board (BSB) women's team at the team event's semifinals stage could not have come in a more inappropriate time of the 31st all-India inter-institutional championship.

BSB had fielded a 16-year-old trainee, Sheri Crawford, against whom the Defence Accounts Sports Control Board (DASCB) team had lodged a protest. After a lengthy meeting headed by Probir Mitra, a TTFI Vice-President, the TTFI decided to disqualify BSB and give DASCB a semifinal place instead.

BSB manager Kamlesh Mehta, a genial person who always steered clear of controversy during his playing days, argued the case of his team on three counts: the tournament rules circulated to the teams before the meet did not specify anything on fielding a trainee, the prospectus of the meet did not mention anything about this and most importantly the jury meeting before the championship did not discuss this issue at all. Yet, the BSB was sent packing, leaving a lot of red faces in the BSB team.

The unceremonious exit of the BSB team brought about more muck as Life Insurance Corporation and BSB teams lodged protests against Railways fielding a trainee, K. Srivatsa Chakravarthy, and PSCB entering Shibaji Dutta.

Both LIC and BSB were conveyed to in writing that the Railways had withdrawn the entry of its player and PSCB players entry was in order because he, as per the rule, joined the company before March 31, the deadline to do so.

BSB argued that Crawford was allowed to play till the semifinals stage without being found unfit. Said Mehta: "we came here with just three women players, a minimum requirement to field a team. Had we known that she was ineligible to play, we would have made arrangements to bring in a replacement."

The TTFI secretary went on record to this magazine last year that players on stipend were eligible to play in the tournament when a problem with Sushmita Roy came up at Indore with BSB and Railways claiming her as their player.

Ultimately, Sushmita was allowed to play for BSB. If so, the BSB officials questioned the wisdom of TTFI to debar Crawford and demanded to know when the TTFI took a fresh decision on players on stipend. "It is not possible for different units to know what decisions TTFI takes in its meetings. We expect the TTFI to inform the units as and when a new decision is taken," said Mehta.

A TTFI insider said the Federation decided not to allow the trainees to play in team championships because the institutions exploit the talent without giving him/her a permanent job.

The TTFI, which rules the game in the country, should come clear on the issue and avoid such unsavory incidents tarnish the good name of the game. The TTFI should also foresee such problems in future and help in the smooth conduct of a championship. No institution will like to be drawn into controversy and tarnish its name. It is time the TTFI and other warring units of the Federation realise this and save the golden goose from the altar of politics.


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