Pune, Oct 16 (UNI) In a nerve wrecking contest, Soumi Mondal proved herself just better than her fancied Indian rival Neha Aggarwal to clinch the bronze medal after both the girls lost their semi-final matches in straight games to leave it to two Singaporeans to decide the top two medals in the singles of the Table Tennis competition of the Commonwealth Youth Games here today.
Soumi won the bronze medal but not before the Bengali girl had to put in all her efforts so as to overcome a determined Neha whom she best 4-3 (11-8, 10-12, 8-11, 11-3, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8).
The two paddlers from India, were just not ready to give space to the other and a fairly large crowd which had gathered to witness the match could not refrain themselves from applauding each and every point earned by Soumi and Neha.
The high tension drama forced the two girls to committ some very elementary mistakes as at times the two even failed to keep the second bounce of their serve on the table.
Down by two games to three, Soumi battled her way into the match to surprise Neha and won two successive games to leave the top ranked Indian paddler, who was being considered as a strong gold medal contender, to return home without a medal in singles.
Earlier in the morning, an off-colour Neha, whose Olympic campaign at Beijing this year lasted just 34 minutes, failed to find her footing in the match and was defeated by Isabelle Li 0-4 (5-11, 6-11, 6-11, 9-11) in just 28 minutes, while Soumi Mondal bacame a victim of another Singaporean Kai Xin Zena Sim who she lost 0-4 (14-16, 10-12, 4-11, 4-11).
The ace Indian paddler, Neha was not in her usual best and her weak and wayward returns added to her miseries. Though the Indian did try to make a comeback into the match with her last game effort, it was still not enough and Neha had to surrender rather tamely.
The 18-year-old Neha, who won the gold medal in the doubles event with Soumi Mondal last night, was always trailing her Singaporean rival but the Indian did get a chance in the fourth game but she let it go.
In the last game, Neha had a handsome lead when she was leading 6-2, but Isabelle made a stunning return in the game and levelled the scores at 6-6.
From there on, it was an even exchange of scores but at 9-9, the Singaporean grabbed the two important points to surge ahead and book a place in the final for herself.
Meanwhile, Soumi was stunned by the firepower that Kai Xin exhibited from the very start of the match. The Indian still made a strong effort but it was still not enough to thwart her Singaporean rival.
Soumi fought hard in the first two games and lost at scores 14-16, 10-12, but after those two games the Indian ran out of steam and succumbed to her rival's determined game.
UNI RAR PD RK1815