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Two Days of Competitive Sports

April 2006
Two Days of Competitive Sports

Vibha Khelmela provides opportunity for local players to show their chops in table tennis and chess tournaments

The table tennis clash between Rajat Dua and Ajay Aphale was an absolute thriller. It reminded some of the great matches between the Indian paddlers Manjit Dua, Kamlesh Mehta and Chandrasekhar. Vibha Khelmela, organized in Global Mall on March 18 and 19, brought back memories for everyone – memories of intercollegiate matches, inter-hostel matches, and of impulsive duels on street corners.

Forehand top-spins, controlled backhand chops, deceptive serves, were all on display at the table tennis final. After giving away a two game lead at 10-12 and 5-11, Dua fought back and won the next two games at 11-6 and 12-10. Aphale bounced back hard and took the next game easily at 11-6. The next two games were a test of nerves and both the players responded well, producing some of the most scintillating games of table tennis ever witnessed in the four-year history of Vibha KhelMela. Dua exhibited controlled aggression and won the next game at 11-8, making it three games each and setting the stage for a grand finale. In a game of changing fortunes, Dua peaked at the right time and produced the match-winning burst of strokes to take the game and match at 11-8.

The tremendous energy, competitive spirit and sense of nostalgia with which each participant played made it a great weekend for all the players as well as Vibha volunteers. Sanjeev Dambal, the Chess Champion summarized it well: "Ever since I moved to Atlanta in 2004, Vibha Khelmela has become the most sought-after event in my calendar. It is a wonderful experience to be able to play the sports we played back home in India, meeting other players and interacting with the dedicated set of Vibha volunteers. Knowing that the proceeds are for charity made it even more memorable. While the international rules and formats are followed, the informal atmosphere in which the event is conducted adds to its charm and makes it a very enjoyable experience for players and the families. I am already looking forward to participate in the next event and maybe even volunteer." This event also showed how supportive the community is for the cause of Vibha, a nonprofit that strives for the betterment of underprivileged children in India.

"The fact that by devoting some of our time we are able to change the lives of so many children in ways big and small is what makes being part of such an endeavor so gratifying. I would love to continue to be part of this event and of Vibha, and thus do my little bit," said Rajat Dua, who was also the coordinator of the event. The proceeds from this event will benefit Vibha-sponsored child development projects in India in the areas of education, healthcare and vocational training. A complete list of 34 projects currently funded by Vibha can be viewed at www.vibha.org

The Khelmela started off on Saturday morning with the Chess tournament, with increased participation in the children's segment. Steve Snyder, author of several books on chess and a veteran of chess training for children for more than 25 years, organized the chess event in the Swiss format. Sanjeev Dambal was able to retain his championship for the third year in a row in the seniors section, while Saitej Gutikonda, Janak Joshi and Michael Rayalu were declared joint winners in the Juniors section.

In table tennis, Prachi Fulay participated both in the under-15 and women categories, and won both the titles. While she won the women's championship easily, she faced stiff resistance in the under-15 category, losing to Anay Nawathe in the initial rounds. However, she made amends to her game and won against Nawathe in the finals.���Carrom, India's most popular indoor sport, saw some serious competition during the two days. This year's tournament saw some new talent, particularly among men. Amit Shinde won the championship, defeating Hemant Lad 25-14 in a well-contested match. . However, Hemant won the doubles championship in the company of Ajay Aphale. In the women's section, Sangeetha Vijay won the championship over her regular weekend opponent Lakshmi Thiagarajan.

"Vibha tournaments always leave good memories for us, particularly as we think of supporting a child's future through these games," said Vijay Nagarajan, Vibha Khelmela 2005 Table Tennis champion, and who participated this year also in all the events and reached final in the table tennis doubles tournament.

Vibha is run by volunteers coming from diverse backgrounds with the next fundraiser being the 8th Annual FutureTech Vibha Cricket tournament to be held from April 28 to 29 and May 13 to 14 at GeorgiaTech. For more information about the organization, visit http://atlanta.vibha.org

The following are winners at Khel Mela 2006

Event ��������������� Winner ��������������� Runner up

Chess Seniors Sanjeev Dambal��� Yuvraj Sankaran

Chess Juniors Saitej Gutikonda

Janak Joshi

Michael Rayalu Tarun Daniel

Gregory Hirsch

Vajraang Kamat

Carrom Men's Singles Amit Shinde Hemant Lad

Carrom Doubles Ajay Aphale

Hemant Lad Ravi Balasubramanian

Venkatesh Srinivasan

Carrom Junior Singles Vooha Vellanki Ritwik Peesapati

Neil Adi

Carroms Women Singles Sangeetha Vijay Lakshmi Thiagarajan

Table Tennis Men's Singles Rajat Dua Ajay Aphale

Table Tennis Women's Singles Prachi Fulay Archana Chaudhary

Table Tennis Men's Doubles Shubhankar Mukherjee

Sanjeev Dambal Vijay Nagarajan

Sanjay Bala

Table Tennis –Juniors Prachi Fulay Anay Nawathe

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