Meghalaya girls shine in day 1 of invitational TT tournament


SHILLONG, March 24: Junior table tennis prodigies of Nepal, Bhutan and Meghalaya were in action at the Invitational (International) Table Tennis Tournament organised by the Rilbong Sports and Cultural Club as part of its Diamond Jubilee celebrations here on Thursday.

The three-day event, the first of its kind in the State, is being conducted under the aegis of the Meghalaya Table Tennis Association and has been approved by the Table Tennis Federation of India.

Former Deputy Chief Minister Bindo M Lanong declared the event open in the presence of president of RSCC, Manas Chaudhuri and the visiting and the state contingents among others.

Declaring the event as open, Lanong lauded the Rilbong club for organising the event which besides providing a platform to young talents also promises to bring Meghalaya closer to India's Himalayan neighbours.

A TT player himself during his college days, Lanong urged the players, especially the visitors, to enjoy the game and display discipline in their endeavours.

He asked the players from Bhutan and Nepal to enjoy their stay in Shillong which was like "a home away from home for them."

On a lighter note Lanong, who was the runners up during a college TT event in the 1980s, said he was still fit to compete at the highest level even though his eyes might fail him at the moment if not the body.

Chaudhuri too welcomed the visiting contingents and the home team and hoped that the event will create a special bond between Nepal, Bhutan and Meghalaya.

The former minster duo also tried their hands at the game much to the delight of all present.

Strong Nepal contingent

This might not be a coveted South Asian event, but Nepal is all out to create an impression in the invitational TT tourney organised by RSCC.

The team's intention can be judged from the fact that of the 10 players representing the Himalayan Kingdom, at least four have represented the country in the junior South Asian Games on numerous occasions. Adding to it, Nepal has sent a contingent of national level players making them the team to beat in this event.

A confident Nepal chief coach Sanjay Aryal said that he was looking forward to a great show by the juniors in the event.

"We have in our team players like Santoo Shrestha (Nepal senior champion and junior SAG bronze medalist) and Mani Kumar Lama (Junior SAG silver medalist) who have excelled at the highest level, looking forward to a great show here," Aryal said.

Meanwhile, even though Bhutan might not be able to boast of such prowess, yet nothing can be taken away from them given the enthusiasm with which they undertook the Shillong trip.

"The invitational event is very important for our players who need to grab any opportunity that provides them exposure. In Sumit Subba we have a junior SAG player in our 4-member team and we hope to make the best out of the event," Bhutan manager Dala Thinley said.

Early in the day, Meghalaya's Tanushree D Gupta breezing past her Nepal rivals Sikka Suwal and Sonu Thapa in the girls' team event's singles and reverse singles encounters. Tanushree beat Suwal 11-3, 11-3, 12-10 in the girls' singles and tamed Thapa 11-3, 11-6, 11-6 in the reverse singles event.

Meghalaya's Camelia Diengdoh, meanwhile, beat Nepal's Sikka Suwal 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-4 in the reverse singles. Diengdoh, however, went down to Nepal's Sonu Thapa in the first game of the day.

The Diengdoh-Gupta duo was beaten 10-12, 11-6, 9-11, 8-11 by Thapa and Suwal in the doubles event. Meghalaya eventually prevailed 3-2 over Nepal in the girls' team event in round 1.

The Meghalaya girls then made a clean sweep (3-0) against Bhutan.

In the boys' team event, Nepal stole the show in round 1 with junior South Asian Games players Santoo Shrestha and Mani Kumar Lama making light work of the state duo of T Yogesh Singh and Suranjit Dey ij the singles events. The doubles match, however, was well contested with Santoo and Mani beating their opponents 5-11, 13-11, 4-11, 11-5, 11-7.

The Meghalaya boys, however, came back strong in the 2nd round against Bhutan winning it 3-1. Again in the boys team event (round 3) Nepal's Ritiz Joshi beat Meghalaya's Sumit 3-0, Santoo beat Leki 3-0 and the Nepalese duo of Bipul/Narayan beat Meghalaya's Sumit/Leki 3-2.

At the end of Day 1, Meghalaya is leading in the girls team event while Nepal are on top in the boys' event.

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