Kapali upsets Rokka

Kathmandu, August 10

Top table tennis players Santoo Shrestha and Nabita Shrestha earned berths for next month’s Asian Championship to be held in Indonesia.

Santoo came from a set down to beat unseeded Amar Lal Malla 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 in the final match of the selection tournament to qualify for his maiden Asian Championship.

Malla and Samyog Kapali also earned berths for the Championship to be held in Indonesia from September 15-22.

Malla, who was allowed to take part in the selection tournament as the 17th player after he failed to make it to the national team camp due to his absence in the eighth National Games, finished second, while Kapali — who had reached the round of 16 in the eighth National Games — upset second-ranked Pradeep Rokka 11-5, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8 in the third-place playoff match.

In women’s section, eight-time national champion and No 1 Nabita Shrestha booked Indonesia tickets along with No 2 Elnina Maharjan and fifth-ranked Sikka Suwal.

Shrestha lost the first set 5-11 before bouncing back to win next three sets 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 against Suwal in the final match, while Maharjan struggled to beat Swechhya Nembang 11-9, 11-4, 8-11, 8-11, 11-4 to finish third.

While Santoo Shrestha is the lone male player in top 10 to make it to the Asian Championship, third-ranked Raveena Maharjan and No 4 Diskhya Tamang failed to make the cut in women’s section. Three players — Santoo Shrestha, Samyog Kapali and Sikka Suwal — will be representing the country in the Asian Championship for the first time. A total of 20 players each in both categories — top 16 plus four selected from open selection — took part in selection tournament organised by All Nepal Lawn Tennis Association.

Eight-time national champion Nabita Shrestha said the team had no huge expectation as all the countries in Asia were stronger and that the outing would be timely exposure for the players ahead of 13th South Asian Games. “Asia is a powerhouse in table tennis and we cannot expect big from Asian Championship,” said Shrestha. “As the tournament is just ahead of SA Games, it will be a great exposure for us. Along with finding out our weaknesses, we also get to know about the players from the South Asian region and their playing style as well,” she added.

Another Nepal Police Club player Santoo Shrestha was excited to get the opportunity to play in the Asian Championship. “This is my first time and I am quite excited about it although I have already participated in the Asian Games,” said Shrestha.

“Today I learnt a lesson that you should not take things for granted. I lost the first set as I took it easy. I believe the Asian Championship will help us in our preparation for the SA Games, which is our main priority.”