Diya Chitale and Swastika Ghosh finished second in the finals of U-19 Girls Doubles at the WTT Youth Star Contender 2021 in Tunis, Tunisia. The Indian peddler duo went down rather meekly to Natalia Malinina and Elizabet Abramian, failing to win even a single game. The Russian duo subdued the Indian challengers 3-11, 6-11 and 7-11 in a one-sided match to clinch the title. The current edition was the only international youth event post-pandemic to feature Indian paddlers.
Road to the Finals:
Diya and Swastika stormed into the tournament decider riding high on a string of some splendid performances. The Indian paddlers capitalized on a bye in the opener to advance into the next round. Later in the eliminators, they confirmed a medal for India by trouncing the Tunisian pair of Maram Zoghlami and Fadwa Garci, 11-5, 6-11, 11-9 and 11-8, who visibly enjoyed local support.
In the semi-finals, the duo got the better of Hanna Arapovic and Linda Zaderova 3-2. Hanna is a Croatian while Linda hails from the Czech Republic. Considering their impressive run, Diya and Swastika entered the finals as title favourites. Despite their defeat, table tennis fans in India have lauded the effort, which is an encouraging sign for a sport that’s overshadowed by cricket.
In the U-19 Girls Singles event too, Diya and Swastika led the Indian challenge remarkably well. Both had identical journeys, enjoying a dream run in the league stage until crashing out in the eliminators. Both won all their group matches to top the tables in their respective groups.
|Diya vs. Darya Vasilenka||Diya||11-7, 11-7, 11-7|
|Diya vs. Linda Zaderova||Diya||11-4, 10-12, 11-1, 11-8|
|Diya vs. Narimene Hind Siddeki||Diya||11-3, 11-4, 11-7|
|Swastika vs. Malamatenia Papadimitriou||Swastika||11-6, 11-6, 11-9|
|Swastika vs. Ines Matos||Swastika||8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 11-7|
Alongside these two, the WTT Youth Star Contender 2021 also saw three young boy paddlers – Payas Jain, Deepit Patil and Preyesh Suresh – in action. While Payas and Deepit had an ordinary tournament, Preyesh was the standout performer for India. He made it to the quarterfinals of the U-15 Boys Single event only to be ousted by Ilia Koniukhov from Russia. The Chennai lad is presently the Indian Sub-Junior champion and one of the most talented paddlers on the scene.
About Diya Chitale:
The 18-year-old Mumbai girl is the current Youth National Champion and Maharashtra State Champion. Diya has loads of skills, agility and aggression, making her a promising prospect on the national TT scene. Her forehand drives are quick and precise enough to rattle opponents.
About Swastika Ghosh:
Swastika ranks fifth among the world’s top junior paddlers. Born in Kolkata, she moved to Mumbai to advance her career. Before the WTT event, her financial struggles made headlines.
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