Neha leads the charge as 4 Indian paddlers move into quarters

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Pune, Oct 15 (UNI) Olympian Neha Aggarwal and Soumi Mondal moved into the semi-finals with thumping wins and later the Indian boys too followed them in their respective singles matches of the table tennis competition at the Commonwealth Youth Games here today.

Neha showed her superiority as she overcame Seychelles' Anniessa Benstrong in straight games 4-0 (11-4, 12-10, 11-2, 11-3) to reach the quarters and then followed it up with a victory over England's Karina Le Fevre 4-0 (11-8, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7).

Meanwhile, Kolkata girl Soumi Mondal, came right from behind to earn a place in the semi-finals defeating Wan May Skueh of Malaysia 4-1 (8-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-4, 11-13, 11-3). Earlier in the morning, she beat Canadian rival Emmanuelle Lavoie in a one-sided affair 4-0 (11-4, 11-1, 11-3, 11-6) book an encounter with Skueh.

In the boys singles, sixth seed Soumyajit Ghosh and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran also won both their respective singles matches and stormed into the semi-final league.

With this win, Neha has moved a step closer to the gold medal for which she was being regarded as the front runner ever since the competition got underway.

Neha's clever thinking were evenly matched by her skillful game, while her rival was more inclined to wait for the Indian to make mistakes.

The Indian adopted a very aggressive approach from the word go and did not have any problem to take the first game 11-8. However, Benstrong made a spirited comeback but Neha was good enough to thwart it as well.

Benstrong failed to outthink her Indian counterpart as Neha trapped her rival at one corner and then very smartly placed the ball on the other leaving Benstrong stranded on one side of the table.

After that, Benstrong ran out of steam but the Neha hardly put a foot wrong and just ran away with the match to secure a place in the quarter finals.

Neha, who hasn't lost a single game in the competition so far, had no problems to oust her Canadian rival either.

Meanwhile, Soumi's good run in the competition continued as she downed Lavoie with much ease and never for a moment did she falter at any point in her first match of the day and moved up the ladder win another win to reach the semis.

Neha and Soumi are also leading the Indian challenge in the doubles and with their current form, the two are expected to take the pole position in that event as well.

However, in a see-saw battle, Soumyajit Ghosh was stretched to limit as England's Gavin Thomas matched him stroke by stroke and point by point. But the Indian held his nerves to win a marathon seven-game match 4-3 (11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-2, 11-7) to reach the semi-finals.

Earlier, he had posted an an impressive 4-1 (11-7, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6) win over Canada's Ling Kun Yang to book a place along with Gavin.

Another boy in the fray, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran had an uphill task but the Indian came good to beat his English rival Liam Benjamin Pitchford 4-2 (11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 3-11, 11-4, 11-7) and then won his quarter-final match as well.

Two games up, Sathiyan encountered a strong ressistance from his English counterpart who leveled the scores by winning the third and fourth game in the first match today.

The Indian, however, clawed back into the match and did not let his opponent to take any more advantage as he won two successive games to end a 36-minute long battle and moved into the quarter-final stage.


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