Amalraj wins, celebrates, loses 25% of prize money
Lucknow: A Amalraj stunned reigning champion Achanta Sharath Kamal to notch up his maiden Senior National Table Tennis title but his overt celebration earned him a 25 per cent fine of his prize money on Sunday.
It was a well-deserved title triumph for PSPB`s Amalraj, who beat top-seed Sharath Kamal 4-2 but the day turned sore for the new champion when the 26-year-old chose to celebrate by first jumping on to the table and then throwing his racquet and pumping his arms.
This warranted the umpire to show him the yellow card but Amalraj still didn`t give any heed to the umpire`s reaction and went around the centre-court merrily and was shown a red card then.
Amalraj even didn`t shake hand with Sharath or the umpire until his coach S Raman reminded him.
Now he stands to lose 25 per cent of his prize money, which is Rs 2.1 lakh. The punishment has been recommended to the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) by competition manager, N Ganeshan.
This was the only aberration in an otherwise thrilling final as Commonwealth doubles gold medallist Amalraj dethroned the six-time national champion Sharath 11-8 11-8 12-10 9-11 7-11 11-8.
Amalraj began not only confidently but showed his early aggressive intent as he matched Sharath shot for shot and never was afraid to play attacking game.
He was down 6-8 in both the first and second games and came back strongly took a comfortable lead at 2-0.
In the third, Sharath got a lucky point to be 9-all and could have turned it around but Amalraj was playing his best game and shut out the challenge at 12-10.
Lagging 0-3, Sharath scripted a remarkable recovery by winning the next two games but Amalraj became cautious in the sixth game and points changed hands quickly.
At 7-7, Amalraj picked up the momentum when Sharath sent the ball three times before managing to take a point to go 8-10. Amalraj then dished out a close-to-the-net serve which the senior pro could not return.
"I had beaten Sharath before in the inter-institutional and my confidence was high. I wanted to continue in the same vein. My coach (S Raman) also motivated a lot today," he said.
"My national level goal has been achieved and I now want to concentrate on even bigger goal. I am off to Germany to train for the Asian and world championships."
Asked for his reaction on the drama that followed his win, Amalraj said: "It was not intentional and I did it in excitement.
Reminded about the fine, he said: "I don`t mind losing a portion of the money."
Earlier in the women`s final, Poulami Ghatak beat K Shamini 4-0 (11-9, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7).
Poulami kept the pressure on Shamini from the beginning and even though the latter tried to stage a comeback in the third game and was leading 8-2, a timely time-out suggestion by husband and coach Soumyadeep Roy did a good turn for Poulami. Not only did she equal the score at 8-8, but went on to win the third and fourth games without any trouble.
Poulami attributed her seventh title to hard work. "My only aim before the final was to play well, knowing Shamini`s strength. I did exactly that and I am thankful to god I was able to regain the title which I lost to Shamini last year."
Men`s singles (final): Amal Raj A (PSPB) bt Sharath Kamal (PSPB) (4-2) 11-8, 11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 7-11, 11-8; Semi-finals: Sharath Kamal (PSPB) bt Soumayajit Ghosh (NB) (4-1) 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6; Amal Raj A (PSPB) bt Subhajit Saha (PSPB) (4-0) 11-7, 11-4, 11-7, 11-8.
Doubles (final): Sanil Shetty-Amal Raj (PSPB) bt Harmit Desai-Devesh Karia (Guj) (3-2) 12-10, 8-11, 10-11, 11-6, 12-10.
Women`s singles (final): Poulami Ghatak (PSPB) bt Shamini K (PSPB) (4-0) 11-9, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7; Semi-finals: Poulami Ghatak (PSPB) bt Ankita Das (NB) (4-3) 11-3, 9-11, 11-9, 4-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-8; Shamini K (PSPB) bt Mouma Das (PSPB) (4-1) 11-9, 11-4, 12-10, 13-15, 11-6.
Doubles (final): Shamini K-Mousami Paul (PSPB) bt Anindita Chakraborty-Pallavi Kundu (WB) (3-1) 5-11, 11-5, 11-6, 12-10.