Harmeet, Robles star as Goa Challengers dethrone Chennai Lions to win IndianOil Ultimate Table Tennis
Pune, 31 July, 2023
Spearheaded by ace paddler Harmeet Desai and World Championships medalist Alvaro Robles, Goa Challengers dethroned defending champions Chennai Lions 8-7 to win the Indian Oil Ultimate Table Tennis Season 4 title at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge-Balewadi in Pune.
It was the maiden title for the Goa franchise, which took home the sparkling trophy and Rs 75 lakh, the runners-up received Rs 50 lakh for their performance in the season.
Country's top-ranked paddler Harmeet Desai defeated Benedikt Duda by 2-1, giving Goa Challengers a perfect start in the tie. World No. 32 Duda, who was undefeated in the league so far, began the match on a high and showcased his strength with ferocious shots on both flanks. He won the first game 11-6 before Harmeet Desai made a remarkable comeback and pocketed the second game 11-4 to force the match into the decider.
The thrilling third game saw a seesaw battle between both the paddlers as they were immaculate with their touches and fought for every point. In the end, Harmeet held his nerve to win the game 11-8 and clinch the match.
Yangzi Liu, the first female paddler to score more than 200 points in the league, continued her unbeaten run in Season 4 and defeated Suthasini Sawettabut 2-1 to bring the Chennai Lions franchise back into the tie.
In the Mixed Doubles), Achanta Sharath Kamal and Yangzi defeated Harmeet and Suthasini 2-1 as Chennai Lions took a 5-4 lead in the tie. The Chennai Lions pair produced remarkable coordination in the first game to win it by 11-7 before clinching the second by 11-9. Harmeet and Suthasini won the third game through a golden point .
Robles blanked veteran Sharath Kamal 3-0 in the fourth match of the tie to bring Goa Challengers into the contest. The multiple-time Asian Games medalist fought well in the first game, but Robles was more accurate as he took the first game 11-8 and carried the momentum to win the second by the same scoreline. The game also went in the favour of the World Championships silver medalist.
Reeth earned the required eighth point to take Goa Challengers to the title despite losing 1-2 to Sutirtha Mukherjee.
Goa Challengers 8-7 Chennai Lions
Harmeet Desai 2-1 Benedikt Duda (6-11, 11-4, 11-8), Suthasini Sawettabut 1-2 Yangzi Liu (11-7, 6-11, 5-11),Harmeet/Suthasini 1-2 Sharath/Yangzi (7-11, 9-11, 11-10)
Alvaro Robles 3-0 Sharath Kamal (11-8, 11-8, 11-10),Reeth Tennison 1-2 Sutirtha Mukherjee (7-11, 10-11, 11-6)