But the spotlights fell on both Haryana men, who beat Maharashtra A 3-1 and Airports Authority of India (AAI) women who downed Tamil Nadu 3-1.
Haryana, no doubt, had to depend on the experience of Sourav Chakraborty who won both his singles, but it was Sarthak Gandhi’s third singles triumph that gave Haryana the edge over Maharashtra. Though Jubin Kumar, their main player's loss to Aman Balgu did not matter in the end as Chakraborty made amends by beating Balgu in his reversingles.
In the last quarterfinal, West Bengal overcame a stiff Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) to win 3-1 and earn the right to take on Haryana in the semifinals. With just Anirban Nandi, the most reliable player in their ranks, could not do much against the likes of Sourav Saha and Surajit Das, their weakest player, as Sougata Sarkar won his reverses to see their team home.
Rajasthan put up a brave front but Gujarat scuttled them with a 3-1 win in the quarterfinals. But Gujarat men will begin their semifinal battle against top-seeded PSPB team. After Abhishek Yadav posted a comfortable win over Jignesh Jaiswal, Devesh Karia restored parity with a hard-fought victory over Sudhanshu Grover.
The see-saw match witnessed fluctuating fortunes with Grover going 2-1 up. But Karia, with two national ranking titles behind him, took the next two games to keep Gujarat’s hopes alive. Hardik Bhatt only hastened the issue by beating Vivek Bhargava, who led 2-0 and faltered. Karia completed the task, winning 3-0 against Yadav.
Nobody would have given even an iota of chance to AAI women against Tamil Nadu. AAI, having lost the services of senior players following age-fudging, had pitted and relied on the junior lot to deliver the goods with the senior most Nikhat Banu for company. And the juniors did not disappoint AAI.
Amrutha Pushpak played a stellar role, wining both her singles. She first beat Narasimha Priya 3-1 and then downed Vidya Narasimhan 11-6, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9 the crucial fourth rubber. But it was a good revenge that Seraha Jacob exacted against Shanmathi Sathiyamoorthy which paved the way for AAI's entry into the semifinals after the experienced but patchy Nikhat Banu lost to Vidya 10-12, 14-12, 6-11, 13-11, 11-1.