Hong Kong's Doo Hoi Kem defeated Petrissa Solja 3-0 to guide Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas to a 15-12 win against Shaze Challengers on day five of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), the country's first-ever professional table tennis league, at the Nehru Stadium.
After Monday's match, Falcons TTC maintained their lead on the points table with 28, followed by Challengers and Yoddhas with 26 apiece. The encounter was evenly poised after five rubbers with Yoddhas ahead 8-7. However, the next four matches saw mixed fortunes for the teams. Andrej Gacina appeared to have given Challengers the upperhand by trouncing India's Jubin Kumar 3-0 (11-5, 11-8, 11-2) but Polina Mihailova hit back with a 3-0 win of her own against Indian paddler Mouma Das as Yoddhasnosed ahead 11-10.
With the last two matches to be played, it looked like anyone's tie to win. Tomislav Pucar, who came in as a replacement for the Yoddhas's top player Panagiotis Gionis, started well by taking the first game 11-9 against Li Ping.
The lanky Croatian, however, couldn't sustain the momentum and lost the next two games to lose 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, allowing Challengers to draw level at 12-all.
Doo Hoi Kem denied Solja in the final match, winning two close games in a shutout, to secure a much-needed victory for Yoddhas. Earlier, India's Soumyajit Ghosh stunned world No.29 Aruna Quadri to give Challengers a flying start before Yoddhas bounced back to lead 8-7.
Ghosh put Challengers ahead with a stunning 2-1 victory over his Nigerian rival in the opening match of the day. The Indian, ranked no. 85, cruised to a 11-2 win in the opening game before Quadri staged a strong comeback to win the second at 11-9.
The Nigerian jumped to a 7-2 lead in the third before the Indian rallied brilliantly to turn the contest on its head, taking the lead at 8-7 before winning the game at 11-8.China-born German world No. 9 Han Ying extended Challengers' lead to 4-2 with a 2-1 win over Manika Batra of Yoddhas in the women's singles.
Batra pulled off a surprise win in the opening game 11-8, before experienced Ying regained control to take the next at 11-5 and was pushed to the limit before holding on to win the third game on the golden point (11-10).
In a reversal of fortunes, Yoddhas' mixed doubles pair of Abhishek Yadav and Doo Hoi Kem outclassed Challengers team Ghosh and Petrissa Solja (Germany) 3-0 (11-10. 11-9, 11-6) tohelp their side edge ahead on points at 5-4. Yoddhas' Quadri rallied from a game down to win his second match of the day, against Croatia?s Andrej Gacina 2-1 (10-11, 11-6, 11-3) to put his team ahead 7-5 after four matches.
In the fifth rubber, Polina Mihailova faltered against Han Ying, losing 1-2 (8-11, 11-10, 8-11) as Challengers reduced the margin to 7-8. Earlier, Greece paddler Gionis, ranked 19 in the world, was ruled out of the remainder of the league due to an inflammation in heel and was Pucar.