Chennai, Apr 12 UNI | 4 months ago

Top seed, India's Prarthana Thombare had to wage a three-and-a half-hour long battle on the court, braving scorching sun too, to get the better of a strong challenge from compatriot and seventh seed Eetee Maheta 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final to win the singles title of the ITF Futures tennis championships for women here today.

Their brilliance of strong ground strokes intersperaed with simple errors marked the contest. But it was to the credit of fitness of both players that they did not let go till the very end.

Eetee began on a positive note as she took a 2-0 lead, only to concede the next three games. Prarthana pulled up her socks and began to play consistently deep ground strokes. Prathana led 3-2 and it was Eetee's turn now to play more assertively. Eetee captured 4 of the next five games breaking Prathana twice, holding her own serve twice while conceding one break in the process of clinching the first set 6-4 and take the upper hand.

After a fairly long rest room break the second set began with Eetee taking a 2-0 lead. At this point Prathana took a medical time out. The three minute medical time out seemed to have hurt Eetee's concentration as Prathana took 5 of the next 6 games to take the second set 6-3 and level the match.

The gritty never say die attitude of Prathana was competing against the fluent stroking and strong serving Eetee in a battle of nerves. Eetee led 3-0 1and 4-1 and looked to be in the driver's seat.

But things turned out otherwise as Prathana clawed her way back point by point to level score at 4 games all. Eetee then held her serve with the aid of strong forehands and a blistering backhand down the line to lead 5-4.

Prathana serving under pressure was down 30-40 giving Eetee her first match point. It was frittered away with an error. Eetee once again held advantage only to fritter it away once again. Thereafter Prathana made no mistake and wrapped up the game. Eetee put her disappointment behind and served an ace to race to a lead of 40-15. An error and a double fault nullified the advantage. She was ahead once again and this time she managed to win the game to lead 6-5. At this point Prathana with her own serve to follow took yet another medical break.

At this stage her experience stood her well as the she managed to hold her serve in spite of double faulting on the first point to level 6- all and take the set to a tie breaker. She held her nerve while the talented Eetee played tentaiviely to surrender a 6-4 lead giving Prathana two match points. On the second match point Prathana made no mistake as she played a strong positive return and followed it up with aggressive ground strokes to close out the match. She took home the winner's purse of Rs. 93000( US$1350). Eettee got 8 points and a cheque for Rs.59000-( US$980). The Result (Singles final:

Prathan Thombare beat Eetee Maheta 4-6,6-3,7-6(5).

(Posted on 12-04-2014)