Mumbai: Chennai Lions bounced back from their opening tie debacle to roar to their first win in Ultimate Table Tennis season three, overpowering Puneri Paltan 10-5 at the Thyagaraj Stadium here on Sunday.
Germany's Petrissa Solja and birthday boy Tiago Apolonia of Portugal were the cynosure of the Lions' comprehensive win, setting up the momentum early on.
Solja blanked Commonwealth Championship gold medal winner Ayhika Mukherjee 3-0 in the opening women's singles, while Apolonia staved off a fighting Harmeet Desai of Puneri Paltan 2-1 to hand Lions the firm advantage (5-1) just two matches into the tie.
Sharath Kamal and Petrissa then eased past Desai and Sabine Winter 2-1 in the mixed doubles to seal the match in the Lions' favour. Petrissa helped the Lions begin on a strong note, with a 3-0 win over Ayhika in an intensely fought women's singles opening encounter.
Although ranked 108 places below world number 26 Solja, Ayhika showed great composure and fighting spirit as she made her opponent sweat in the first game.
Fresh from her CWG TT gold medal triumph on Odisha, Ayhika appeared confident and fired up. She raced to a 5-2 lead before Rio Olympic silver medallist Petrissa relied on her experience to pull level at 5-5.
From there on, Petrissa showcased some deft touches and superb net play to take a handy 10-8 lead. Ayhika fought back hard and saved two game points before Petrissa finally pocketed the opening game on the golden point (11-10).