Shaze Challengers got the better of Dabang Smashers TTC 15-12 to make a winning start to their campaign in the inaugural CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) at the Nehru Indoor stadium here today.
After appearing to be coasting to an easy victory with a 10-5 advantage at the end of five matches, Challengers were tested by their rivals, who hit back through their captain Marcos Freitas, who rallied after being one game down to beat Li Ping 7-11, 11-6, 11-5 in the eighth match.
Going into the last match, Challengers were ahead 13-11 with one game needed to seala the tie. Petrissa Solja kept her nerve to record a 2-1 win over Tetyana Bilenko (11-5, 6-11, 11-10) and give the team a flying start.
Chennai player Anthony Amalraj gave it his all and was hugely disappointed to lost 11-10, 2-11, 9-11 to Andrej Gacina as Challengers appeared to strengthen their grip on the match before Freitas fought back.
Kim Song I brought Smashers back in contention with a comprehensive 3-0 (11-8, 11-6, 11-6) defeat of India's Mouma Das to reduce the score to 9-12.
Challengers had grabbed the initial advantage and led by a handsome margin after five matches despite Freitas giving his side a winning start, by beating India's Soumyajit Ghosh. Ghosh snatched a game from the fancied Portugal player but lost 3-11, 6-11, 11-10.
Left-handed Freitas jumped to a 5-2 lead in the opening game before closing it out in aggressive style. Ghosh came back strongly in the second game and he even led 4-3 before Freitas beat back the Indian's challenge to race to a 9-6 lead to seal the game.
Freitas broke away to a 5-3 lead in the third game but Ghosh clawed back to 9-9 and held his nerve to earn a point for his team by winning the third game.
In the second encounter, Madhurika Patkar was no match for Han Ying, going down 6-11, 4-11, 6-11 to give Challengers an early 5-1 lead. The aggressive Ying, a former Chinese, now playing for Germany, played well to rattle the Indian.
In the mixed doubles that followed, Soumyajit Ghosh and Solija Petrissa ran away a 3-0 victor against Kou Lei and Patkar (11-9, 11-8, 11-4) to put the Challengers in a strong position.
Kou Lei, an Ukrainian player of Chinese origin, made amends for the loss in the mixed doubles by beating Andrej Gacina 2-1 (11-9, 11-9, 9-11).
In the fifth match, Kim Song beat Han Ying 11-6, 9-11, 11-10 in a thriller to pull things back for the Smashers.
According to the championship's points system, in each game, whichever individual/pair scores 11 points first shall be declared the winner and his team shall receive one Team Point. Each tie will have nine matches and each match will have three games, so each tie will have 27 games.
The winner of a tie shall be decided by total games, that is total points won, meaning a team that wins 14 or more games of the 27 games shall be declared the winner of that tie.