Hyderabad Strikers defeated Pune Jaguars 45-35 in their final league match and sealed their place in the semi-finals of the Tennis Premier League on Friday. Tied in joint second place with 130 points after three matches, both teams were looking to win big and it was the Hyderabad team with their overall strength that prevailed at the Celebration Club, here.
Hyderabad tallied 175 points and are now sitting pretty at the top, followed by Mumbai Leon Army with 167, with Pune Jaguars and Chennai Stallions tied in third place with 165. With two more matches yet to be played, Gujarat Panthers, on 122, and Bengaluru, on 118, also have an outside chance of making the grade.
In the first match of the day, Chennai Stallions seemed to have reserved their best for the last stages. Lying in the fifth position in the points table after three matches, they needed a big win to stay in contention for a semi-finals slot and 'hat's what they did, defeating the unbeaten Mumbai Leon Army 44-36.
Samantha Sharan gave Chennai a great start when she handed a 12-8 defeat to Sowjanya Bavisetti, her first loss in four matches. Playing aggressive tennis, Samantha raced to a 6-1 lead before two unforced errors helped Sowjanya claw her way to 6-4 at the change of sides. Samantha, however, kept attacking the flanks and maintained her lead to win the tie 12-8.
Siddharth Rawat then got into the act, scoring a convincing 13-7 victory over Ramkumar Ramanathan, also maintaining his unbeaten streak. When Purav Raja and Samantha got together to outplay Niki Poonacha and Sowjanya 13-7, it seemed curtains for Mumbai, however, Ramkumar and Niki combined brilliantly in the men's doubles to win 1-6 over Raja and Rawat and ensured that though they lost the match, they held a slender two-point lead over Chennai after their league engagements.
In the late matches on Thursday, Bengaluru Spartans kept their hopes alive with a narrow 41-39 win over Pune Jaguars, while Chennai Stallions got the better of Hyderabad Strikers by the same margin.
Results: Chennai Stallions bt Mumbai Leon Army 44-36 (Samantha Sharan bt Sowjanya Bavisetti 12-8; Siddharth Rawat bt R R'mkumar 13-7' Purav Raja/Samantha bt Niko Poonacha/Sowjanya 13-7; Raja/Rawat lost to Ramkumar/Pooonacha 6-14);
Hyderabad Strikers bt Pune Jaguars 45-35 (Karman Kaur bt Rutuja Bhosle 12-8; Arjun Kadhe lost to Ishaque Eqbal 9-11; Vishnu Vardhan/Karman bt Saketh M/Rutuja 12-8; Varshan/Kadhe bt Saketh/Ishaque 12-8);
Bengaluru Spartans bt Pune Jaguars 41-39 (Sabina Sharipova lost to Rutuja Bhosle 8-12; Sriram Balaji bt Ishaque Iqbal 11-9; Sabia/Jeevan N tied with Rutuja/Saketh M 10-10; Balaji/Jeevan bt Saketh/Ishaque 12-8);
Chennai Stallions bt Hyderabad Strikers 41-39 (Samantha Sharan bt Karman Kaur 13-7; Siddharth Rawat bt Arjun Kadhe 12-8; Purav Raja/Samantha lost to Vishnu Vardhan/Karman 8-12; Raja/Rawat lost to Kadhe/Vardhan 8-12).