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Saturday, June 16, 2001

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Maria Irudayam, Nirmala take titles


By Our Sports Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JUNE 15. A. Maria Irudayam reserved his best for the final. The 44-year-old nine-time National champion and two-time World champion shrugged off an indifferent week to capture the men's singles title of the third inter-institution National carrom championship at the National Club here on Friday.

Maria, who managed to scrape past World No. 1 R.M. Shankara in the semifinals, was in his element in the final against Nagsen Etambe of BSB. Maria quickly took control of the proceedings and established a 22-6 lead in the first set. But Nagsen won the next three boards to narrow the gap to 22-17 before Maria took the next board to close the set at 25-17.

In the second set too, Maria took a 10-0 lead, winning the first three boards. But Nagsen won 12 points in the fourth board and took the next board also to lead 16-10. But Maria found his touch to win the next three successive boards and the match 25-17, 25- 16.

Earlier in the quarterfinals, Maria overcame giant killer Prakash Gaikwad of LIC 25-6, 0-25, 25-11. But in the semifinals, he has to thank his opponent R.M. Shankara who made a crucial mistake and missed a chance to put away a coin in the crucial board in the third set. The slip occurred when both players were tied at 22 each and Maria's grabbed his chance and cleared the board to win the match.

Top seeded P. Nirmala of LIC overcame a brief slump in form to defeat G. Revathy 25-18, 4-25, 25-1 to win the women's singles title.

P. Nirmala's inability to finish the first set after taking a winning 24-9 lead was glaring. Nirmala, who until then had played flawlessly, made uncharacteristic errors and allowed G. Revathy to bridge the gap to 24-18. However, Nirmala kept her cool to win the set. But it was Revathy all the way in the second set as she quickly established control from the beginning. Nirmala struggled to find her rhythm as Revathy breezed her way to a 25-4 win.

However, in the decider Nirmala was at her best and did not allow any liberties to her rival. She won all except the first board in style to win the match at 25-18, 4-25, 25-1.

R.M. Shankara-M. Nataraj (Indian Airlines) won the men's doubles title defeating Maria Irudayam and B. Radhakrishnan 22-25, 25-9, 25-6, while G. Revathy and Anupama Kedar (BSB) took the women's doubles title with a 25-6, 11-25, 25-15 win over P. Nirmala and Shilpa Joshi of LIC.

The results:

Men's singles (final): A. Maria Irudayam (Indian Airlines) bt Nagsen Etambe (BSB) 25-17, 25-16. Third place: R.M. Shankara (IA) bt R. Arokiaraj (BSB) 25-17, 21-25, 25-15.

Semifinals: Maria Irudayam bt R.M. Shankara 25-1, 24-25, 25-22; R. Arokiaraj bt Nagsen Etambe 18-25, 25-13, 25-4.

Doubles (final): M. Nataraj/R.M. Shankara (IA) bt Maria Irudayam/B. Radhakrishnan (IA) 22-25, 25- 9, 25-6. Semifinals: Maria Irudayam/B. Radhakrishnan bt Narasinga Rao/Suhas Pomedkar (AIESCB) 25-8, 25- 16; M. Nataraj/R.M. Shankara bt Nagsen Etambe/R. Arokiaraj (BSB) 20-25, 25-18, 25-23.

Women's singles (final): P. Nirmala (LIC) bt G. Revathy (BSB) 25- 18, 4-25, 25-1. Third place: Rashmi Kumari (BSB) bt Anupama Kedar (BSB) 16-23, 25-4, 25-14.

Semifinals: P. Nirmala bt Anupama Kedar 25-24, 25-10; G. Revathy bt Rashmi Kumari 25-12, 25-16.

Doubles (final): G. Revathy/Anupama Kedar (BSB) bt P. Nirmala/Shilpa Joshi (LIC) 25-6, 11-25, 25-15. Semifinals: G. Revathy/Anupama Kedar bt Bharathi Narayan/D.R. Adhya (LIC) 25-0, 25-2; P. Nirmala/Shilpa bt Rashmi Kumari/Hemalatha (BSB) 25-14, 14-25, 25-24.

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