Udaya Ranasinghe

Sri Lanka’s Udaya Ranasinghe denied India a clean sweep was he emerged champion beating India’s Lalrinpuia 4-2 in the Junior Boys final on the concluding day of the South Asian Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Championships at the Talkatora Stadium.

Incidentally, this was Sri Lanka’s first ever gold in the championships. Sri Lanka finished second with one gold, six silver and six bronze medals for a wonderful outing in a South Asian championships.

The Junior girls crown went the Shrushthi Helangadi way as the girl from Maharashtra upset Archana Kamath 3-1. India thus finished with nine gold, three silvers and one bronze medal. Nepal and Paksitan with five bronze each finished third in the overall medals tally.

In a defence versus offence final, the Lankan showed early glimpses of fine adaptability, matching his rival’s every stroke, to begin with. But with his ability to combine very well his offensive game with great retrieval, he outwitted Puia who, after being 0-2 down, caught up at 2-2 only to give away too many negative points to his opponent.

But one cannot take the credit away from Ranasinghe for the way he responded-first against India’s top seed Utkarsh Gupta in the semi-final and then in the final.

“I was confident of a good show because I had a nice rhythm going. After the semi-final win I only had to put the ball on table for my opponent to make mistakes,” said an elated Ranasinghe.

The best match or upset of the championships happened in the semi-final between second-seeded Utkarsh Gupta and Sri Lankan Udaya Ranasinghe. The latter, who is a regular on the global junior circuit, not only showed his proves but overpowered Utkarsh, the winner of the title in the last championships at Islamabad, with blistering forehands.

Credit must go to the Sri Lankan, who despite being in early trouble, sized up his opponent’s weaknesses and thrived on them. Playing percentage table tennis, he converted a good number of crucial points into winners, put paid to Utkarsh’s ambition. What was best about the Lankan was his ability to shift gears from defence to offence and vice-versa.

Utkarsh made amends as he combined with Lalrinpuia to beat the Sri Lankan pair of Ranasinghe and Wickramratne to retain the Junior boys doubles crown 3-1. Similarly, the Junior girls doubles final went the Indian way with Shruti Amruthe and Sreeja Akula putting it beyond the Lankan duo of Ruvini Kannangara and Priyadarshini, winning the title 3-1.

Junior Boys: final: Udaya Ranasinghe (SL) beat Lalrinpuia (Ind) 4-2 (11-9, 11-5, 4-11, 11-13, 12-10, 14-12);
Semi-finals: Lalrinpuia beat Krishan Wickramaratne (SL) 4-1 (11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 11-13, 11-5), Udaya Ranasinghe (SL) beat Utkarsh Gupta 4-2 (9-11, 11-8, 1-11, 118, 11-9, 11-8).
Doubles: final: Utkarsh Gupta/Lalrinpuia (Ind) beat Udaya Ranasinghe/Krishan Wickramaratne (SL) 3-0 (11-2, 11-5, 11-9).
Junior Girls: final: Sreeja Akula (Ind) beat Shruti Amruthe (Ind) 4-1 (11-9, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8);
Semi-finals: Sreeja Akula beat Ruvini Kannangara (SL) 4-1 (11-1, 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 11-2), Shruti Amruthe beat STM Priyadarshini (SL) 4-0 (11-3, 11-8, 11-3, 11-5).
Doubles: final: Shruti Amruthe/Sreeja Akula (Ind) beat Ruvini Kannangara/Priyadharshani (SL) 3-1 (6-11, 11-3, 11-6, 12-10).
Cadet Boys: final: Manav Thakkar (Ind) beat Parth Virmani (Ind) 3-1 (11-4, 11-4, 9-11, 11-7);
Semi-finals: Manav Thakkar beat Santoo Shreshtra (Nep) 3-0 (11-5, 11-8, 13-11), Parth Virmani beat Virunaka Hendahewa (SL) 3-2 (11-8, 11-4, 7-11, 9-11, 14-12).
Cadet Girls: final: Shrushthi Helangadi (Ind) beat Archana Kamath (Ind)) 3-1 (7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7);
Semi-finals: Archana Kamath (Ind) beat Imesha de Silva (SL) 3-0 (14-12, 11-7, 11-1), Srushthi Helangadi beat Hansani Kapugeekiyana (SL) 3-0 (12-10, 11-6, 11-5).