India's junior girls and cadet boys found a common whipping horse in Singapore to qualify for the second stage after the junior boys lost their Group 2 matches 0-3 to both Japan and North Korea in the 20th Asian Junior Table Tennis Championships being held at the Sardar Patel Stadium here Friday.
The junior boys, who have failed to make it to the quarter-finals, would now play the 9-14 position matches but the cadet girls can make the quarter-final cut provided they beat Jordan in Round 3 later.
India could have taken the top perch in cadet boys after the way Manav Thakkar played against Chinese Taipei. He won both his reverse singles and combined well with doubles partner Akaash Nath. But before that Thakkar played a wonderful match against Chen Chun-Hsiang which set the ball rolling.
Thakkar should have won the match after leading 2-0 and in the decider 10-8. But a couple of net errors at matchpoint reversed fortunes in favour of the Taipei boy.
Undaunted, he combined well with Nath to win the doubles and his reverse singles. This was probably the trigger for the team to do well against Singapore where both Thakkar and Nath wore down their rivals to win 3-2.
As for the junior girls, Ayhika was the star winning both her singles against Singapore’s Hui Li Tay (11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8) and Herng Hwee Yee (8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5).
The Indian, down 0-2, struck form suddenly to surprise her rival in the third game. From there, it was the Indian all the way as Yee lost the next two games tamely.
With China and South Korea in junior boys section and China and Japan in junior girls category sitting pretty with direct entry into the quarter-finals Saturday, the onus was on group toppers to maintain their pre-eminence and without a hiccup they took their appointed place after beating their rivals.
As for the junior boys, a clear picture about who will join the group leaders as the second team to qualify for the main draw would emerge only after the third round matches. The same was the case with some of the cadet girls’ teams which would want to grab the vacant second slots in their respective groups. But in cadet boys, Group 4 saw some extraordinary results with No.4 team Bahrain scoring over both Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka.
In terms of reputation, Bahrain was a relatively weaker team considering the potential of Kazakhstan. But the former surprised both the Kazakhs as well as the Sri Lankans to take second place behind Japan. Bahrain beat Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka by a similar 3-0 margin while losing by the same score to Japan.
Junior Girls: Group 1: Hong Kong bt Chinese Taipei 3-0; Hong Kong bt Sri Lanka 3-0; Chinese Taipei bt Sri Lanka 3-0; Group 2: South Korea bt Singapore 3-0; South Korea bt India 3-0, India bt Singapore 3-1 (Sagarika Mukherjee lost to Herng Hwee Yee 11-9, 11-13, 3-11, 5-11, Ayhika Mukherjee bt Hui Li Tay 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, Priyadarshini Das bt En Hui Tan 11-7, 11-7, 11-7, Ayhika Mukherjee bt Herng Hwee Yee 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5); Group 3: North Korea bt Thailand 3-1; North Korea bt Iran 3-0; Thailand bt Jordan 3-0; Iran bt Jordan 3-0, Thailand bt Iran 3-0, North Korea bt Jordan 3-0.
Cadet Boys: Group 1: China bt Hong Kong 3-0; China bt Iran 3-0. Group 2: Chinese Taipei bt India 3-2 (Lin Yun-Ju bt Akaash Nath 11-3, 11-8, 11-7; Chen Chun-Hsiang bt Manav Thakkar 7-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-5, 12-10; Lin Yun-Ju/Lin Hsin-Yang lost to Thakkar/Nath 7-11, 11-7, 7-11, 7-11; Lin Yun-Ju lost to Manav Thakkar 11-7, 7-11, 7-11, 11-8, 5-11; Chen Chun-Hsiang bt Akaash Nath 12-10, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7); Chinese Taipei bt Singapore 3-1, India bt Singapore 3-2 (Akaash Nath lost to Shao Feng Ethan Poh 3-11, 4-11, 11-9, 6-11, Manav Thakkar bt Lucas Tan 11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8, Thakkar/Nath bt Shao Feng/Lucas 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9, Manav Thakkar lost to Shao Feng Ethan 11-6, 8-11, 4-11, 9-11, Akaash Nath bt Lucas Tan 8-11, 5-11, 11-3, 12-10, 11-7). Group 3: South Korean bt Thailand 3-0; Group 4: Japan bt Sri Lanka 3-0; Japan bt Kazakhstan 3-0; Bahrain bt Sri Lanka 3-0; Bahrain bt Kazakhstan 3-0, Japan bt Bahran 3-0, Sri Lanka bt Kazakhstan 3-1.