Challengers pull off a much-needed win


Notwithstanding his World ranking of 243, Manav Thakkar reinforced the growing impression of being the next big hope in Indian table tennis as he upstaged World No. 18 Kristian Karlsson to emerge as a stand-out performer in Empowerji Challengers’ much-needed, big 15-6 win over Maharashtra United in the Ultimate Table Tennis league here on Thursday.
Having played his part in the doubles, Manav took the first two games 11-9, 11-8 but dropped the third at 8-11 after leading 8-6.
This is the second time Manav upstaged a higher ranked overseas player, the first being World No. 33, Ukraine’s Kou Lie, 2-1 in the second match of the league in Pune. Besides Manav, Challengers’ were well served by their four overseas players as it cruised it its first victory in three matches. The triumph raised Challengers to the third spot with 30 points in the six-team competition.
United, worried after Elizabeta Samara twisted her ankle in the second game of the doubles but returned after a long medical break, slipped to the fourth spot at 26. These teams are likely to slip a place when Warriors (21) meets last-placed Falcons (15) on Friday.
For Challengers, Simon Gauzy (France), Tiago Apolonia (Portugal), Lee Ho Ching (Hong Kong) came good before Manav held the centre-stage.
Hungary’s Georgina Pota expectedly put the finishing touches by taking a winning lead against Madhurika Patkar before the Indian snatched the final game.


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