Puneâ€™s upcoming talent Neil Mule exhibited tremendous resilience and played with plenty of determination as he dished out some sterling performances to clinch the sub-junior boys singles crown in the Dr Ramesh Prabhoo Memorial 82nd Maharashtra State Table Tennis tournament, organized by The Suburban District Table Tennis Association.
The summit clash, which was contested between the two left-handers, witnessed a tough battle for supremacy before Neil managed to prevail over Amish Athavle of Nanded in seven games pulling through at 8-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 10-12, 11-2, 11-9, at the Prabodhankar Thackeray Krida Sankul, Vile Parle, Mumbai on Monday evening.
Earlier in the penultimate round, the Pune paddler fought back from the brink of defeat to turn the tables on home challenger Kushal Patel of The Suburban Table Tennis Association in a match that went the distance. The local boy started with a flourish and raced to a 3-0 lead by winning the first three games. But Neil staged a remarkable fightback and went on to win the remaining four games to snatch a come-from-behind 2-11, 4-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-9, 13-11, 11-5 victory and advance to the final.
The second semi-final was another close affair Amish getting the better of Kushal Chopda of Nashik by a 3-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 3-11, 11-6 game scores.
There was some consolation for the Nashik lad Kushal as he defeated his namesake Mumbaiâ€™s Kushal 5-11, 12-10, 11-4, 12-10 in the third-fourth place encounter.
Sub-junior boys (quarter-finals): Kushal Patel (TSTTA) bt Udit Sachdev (THN) bt 11-7, 7-11 11-2, 11-8; Neil Mule (PNA) bt Gaurav Panchangam (THN) 13-11, 11-9, 11-4; Amish Athavle (NDD) bt Swastik Atnikar (THN) 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 3-11, 11-9; Kushal Chopda (NSK) bt Sanskar Bask (TSTTA) 11-7, 11-6, 14-12.
Semi-finals: Neil Mule (PNA) bt Kushal Patel (TSTTA) 2-11, 4-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-9, 13-11, 11-5; Amish Athavle (NDD) bt Kushal Chopda (NSK) 3-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 3-11, 11-6.
Final: Neil Mule (PNA) bt Amish Athavle (NDD) 8-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 10-12, 11-2, 11-9.
Third-fourth place: Kushal Chopda (NSK) bt Kushal Patel (TSTTA) 5-11, 12-10, 11-4, 12-10.