Neha leads the charge as Indian paddlers advance to second round

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Pune, Oct 13 (UNI) High on confidence, Neha Aggarwal gave India a perfect start, winning both her first round matches, while in the boys' section, Soumyajit Ghosh and Sathiyan Gnansekaran also emerged victorious in their opening matches of the first round to advance to the next stage of the table tennis competition at the Commonwealth Youth Games here today.

Neha hardly faced any challenge as she outsmarted her both rivals (3-0) in three sets each. First she overwhelmed Barbara Pepa of Tonga 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 and then came back in the afternoon to defeat Lisa Amanda of Bermuda 11-1, 11-6, 11-6.

Soumi Mondal, in Group 2, also tasted success as she fitrst dumped Amina Namaganda of Uganda 3-0 (11-1, 11-8, 11-1) and then Pakistan's Ayesha Khan (11-2, 11-1, 11-9) to further extend India's domination on the opening day of the Table Tennis competition.

In the boys' section, Soumyajit beat Sri Lankan Sahanka Ganegodage 3-1 (11-3, 6-11, 11-1, 11-6) and William Vagi Stevens (3-0) in the Group 6 matches.

However, the most interesting match of the day was played between Sathiyan Gnansekaran and Scotland's Craig Hardie which the Indian won (3-0) 11-7, 11-8, 14-12 after he had thrashed Morea Jackson Kariko of Papua New Guinea 3-0 (11-5, 11-6, 11-4) in his opening match.

An inform Neha proved to good for Barbara who was clueless and the first few points were enough to indicate which way the match was heading.

The top seeded Neha looked in supreme command against her unfancied rival and the Indian's aggressive approch had become a tough challenge for Barbara to handle.

Neha played intelligently as she locked her rival at one corner and then suddenly placed the ball on the another for which Barbara had no answer. The Indian's returns were spot on while Barbara looked lacklusture when Neha was serving.

Eventually, an unfancied Barbara had to surrender tamely to her more skilfull counterpart who is being touted as a bright gold medal prospect for India. The story did not change with the change of opposition in the next match for Neha as she scripted another predictable result.

In the first match of the day for the Indian boys, Soumyajit also assured that he does not spoil the start that Neha had started and with some great moves he brushed asided his Lankan counterpart 3-0.

The sixth seeded Siliguri lad announced ghis arrival with a formidable win in the opening game but was caught wrong footed when in the second game Sahanka battled his way into the match and took the game 11-6.

''Yes, I did lose the second game but that had more to do with my own mistakes. I was sure fronm the very beginning of the match that I will win it,'' Soumyajit said after his match and also assured that he will bag a medal for his country and would not settle for anything less than a gold.

However, the loss in the second game could not deter Soumyajit's confidence and the highest seeded Indian pulled up his game and was running away with the match in the next two games. The Indian was leading the third game 9-0 and it was because of his own mistake that he gave away the only point that his rival got in that game.

Sathiyan made sure that the good run does not stop and the lean looking boy was just unstopable. While the India did exhibit his great skills in the match, his rival was equally responsible for his undoing as he missed out on some easy opportunities and a good number of double faults as well.

In the evening, Sathiyan was up against an aggressive Scottish who forced the Indian to earn every point with both paddlers matching each other point by point before the Indian finally broke to loose to win the match in three games.


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