Indian team to hve preparatory camp ahead of World inidvidual table tennis c’ships
The Indian team will have a preparatory camp at the SAI Centre, Bengaluru, from May 7 to 17 for the World individual table tennis championships, to be held in Durban (South Africa) from May 20 to 28. All the top players, including G. Sathiyan, Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, and others, who have been selected for the Worlds, are expected to take part in the camp.
India’s top singles paddler Sathiyan has been training with Manika Batra in Hyderabad at the Academy run by Aman Balgu for the last four days with Sathiyan’s coach S. Raman to perform well in the mixed doubles at the Worlds. “We are seeded fourth in mixed doubles, and the lone Indians seeded in the five categories of men’s & women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. We are looking for a medal—both the semifinalists will win a bronze each--though I know it is very difficult,” Sathiyan told The Hindu from Hyderabad.
Ultimate Table Tennis franchises choose their coaches at the Season 4 Coach Draft
Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) held its Coach Draft in Mumbai on Friday as the six franchises picked their coaches for the upcoming edition of the league, scheduled from July 13 to 30.
The UTT Season 4 Coach Draft was attended by UTT co-promoters Niraj Bajaj and Vita Dani along with team owners who chose a combination of one Indian and one foreign coach from the pool.
The league’s newest team, Bengaluru Smashers made the first pick in round one to bring Sachin Shetty on board before adding Slovenia’s Vesna Ojstersek as their foreign coach in the round two.
“I think Vesna and Sachin were a combination for Delhi which ended up as runners-up in 2019. We had that at the back of our mind. Our team had done the homework and these were our first choices. It’s always good to be a part of a league, especially a non-cricketing league. We are happy to be a part of UTT,” commented Punit Balan, owner of Bengaluru Smashers.
Second to pick a coach, Dabang Delhi TTC zeroed in on an experienced A Muralidhara Rao first and then bagged four-time Olympian Slobodan Grujic of Serbia as their foreign coach in the second round. Dabang Delhi TTC owner Radha Kapoor Khanna felt the process was very interesting and was looking to work with their picks.
“We came in with a few equations in mind between the international and Indian coaches. We had a few options. We are hoping that a combination of Muralidhara Rao and Slobodan brings in the winning spirit,” she said.
U Mumba TT and Puneri Paltan Table Tennis found their desired combination in Portugal’s Francisco Santos and Anshul Garg, and N Ravichandran and Zoltan Batorfi of Hungary respectively.
“Francisco and Anshul were our top picks. We have been in touch with Francisco from Portugal, he is already happy being a part of the U Mumba TT franchise and really wanted to work with Anshul. It was really important to get a young combination on the circuit,” said U Mumba TT CEO Suhail Chandhok.
Puneri Paltan Table Tennis CEO Kailash Kandpal commented on the team’s choice: “I am happy with the combination we picked. Zoltan and Ravichandran worked together in their last assignment in Kolkata. They work pretty well as a unit. There were other combinations we had in mind, but this was our priority,”
Goa Challengers picked a combination of five-time Olympian Elena Timina and Parag Agrawal. Vivek Bhargava, the Goa Challengers’ owner, felt the season started well for them with their picks at the coach’s draft. He further added: “The draft was wonderful for us. We got our two top coaches.”
Defending champions Chennai Lions picked India’s Somnath Ghosh before ending the draft with the addition of German Jorg Bitzigeio, who guided the German women’s team to bronze medal at the 2010 World Team Championships, as their foreign coach in the second round.
“We are elated to be a part of UTT. We intend to give our best. The combination of Somnath Ghosh and Jorg Bitzigeio will help us choose the best players available in the draft,” Chennai Lions owners Harini Yadav and Karishma Yadav said in a joint statement.
Having their coaches in line, the teams can begin their preparations for the UTT Season 4 Player Draft to be held early next month. The franchise-based league is promoted by Niraj Bajaj and Vita Dani under the auspices of the Table Tennis Federation of India.
The upcoming season of the league will be played at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune.
Somjeet Singh to captain India’s wheelchair cricket team against Bangladesh counterparts
Lucknow’s Somjeet Singh will lead a 15-member Indian wheelchair cricket team that will take part in a three-match T20 series against Bangladesh in Kolkata from May 7-9.
The Indian squad was selected based on performance in the national tournament held earlier this year as well as the camp organised by Wheelchair Cricket Association of India under the aegis of Differently Abled Cricket Council of India (DCCI). The DCCI is now recognised by the BCCI.
“This series will give a lot of boost to wheelchair cricket in our country. Despite KKR’s IPL match in Kolkata, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has extended its co-operation for the tournament,” DCCI secretary Ravi Chauhan, who represents the association in BCCI, said.
The Team: Somjeet Singh (captain), Sandip Kundu, Sagar Gowda, Kabir Singh Veer Sandhu (wk), Sahil Dyed, R Santhosh, Shailesh Yadav, Umesh Kaushik, Jayan Alt, Ajay Yadav, Sukhwant Singh, Raja Babu, Prashant Singh, Sunil Rao.
Asia Cup: Indian archers bags 14 medals
Indian archers bagged 14 medals, including seven golds, five silvers and two bronzes, to top the medals tally in a depleted field at the Asia Cup World Ranking Tournament, Stage-2, in Tashkent on Friday.
Recurve: Gold medal matches: Individual: Men: Mrinal Chauhan lost to Wang Baobin (Chn) 2-6 (29-30, 29-29, 27-28, 26-26); Women: Sangeeta lost to Wu Jiaxin (Chn) 3-7 (27-26, 27-27, 26-27, 24-27, 26-30); Team: Men: India (Mrinal, Tushar Sheleke, Jayanta Talukdar) bt China 5-1 (57-54, 54-54, 54-51); Women: India (Sangeeta, Madhu Vedwan, Tanisha Verma) lost to China 0-6 (52-56, 47-52, 51-52); Mixed: India (Sangeeta, Mrinal) bt China 5-4 (36-37, 39-39, 37-36, 37-37, S.O. 20-18).
Compound: Gold medal matches: Men: Individual: Abhishek Verma bt Amit 143-143 (S.O. 10-9); Women: Raginee Markoo bt Pragati 144-144 (10*-10); Team: Men: India (Amit, Kushal Dalal, Abhishek) bt Hong Kong 233-226; Women: India (Parneet Kaur, Raginee, Pragati) bt Kazakhstan 232-223; Mixed: India (Parneet, Abhishek) bt Kazakhstan 157-145; Bronze medal matches: Individual: Men: Kushal Dalal bt Sergey Khristich (Kaz) 142-141; Women: Parneet Kaur bt Adel Zhexenbinova (Kaz) 143-141.
Sharma fires hole-in-one as he vaults to Top-20 in Italy
India’s Shubhankar Sharma hit a 5-Iron to perfection for a hole-in-one as he made amends in the second round of the DS Automobiles Italian Open to be placed tied 16th here on Friday.
Sharma, who has been playing well but dropping some crucial strokes as he did last week, shot 2-over 74 on the first day despite an eagle on a Par-4.
His 74-67 saw him get to 2-under 140 for 36 holes and he was in the tied 16th place while Manu Gandas (71-80) had a rough time and missed the cut.
Matthieu Pavon (63-70) led the field at 9-under with Adrian Otaegui (68-67) who had an eagle two on Par-4 first, lying second. Otaegui was sole second at 7-under total.
Adrian Meronk, a star at Europe’s Ryder Cup preparatory event, the Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi, was tied third with 68-68 at 6-under total.
Sharma started the second round from the 10th and in the worst possible manner with bogeys on first and second holes, at which point he was staring at an early exit.
He quickly recovered with three birdies in a row from 12th to 14th. Then on the 17th, he drove precisely on the Par-3 17th from 217 yards and holed it for a great ace. That saw him take the turn in 3-under 33 and he moved into red numbers for the tournament.
A birdie on Par-4 fifth saw him get to 4-under for the day and 2-under for the tournament.
Pavon followed up his first day heroics of 8-under 63 with 1-under 70 and stayed in lead at 9-under at the halfway stage. He began his second round in style with three birdies in a row from 11th to 13th but bogeys on 14th and 17th and then one more on eighth saw him drop back.
He finished with a birdie on ninth for a 70.
Pavon has a lot to play for at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club this week, with a maiden DP World Tour title and the chance to capture European Captain Luke Donald’s attention for one of the spots on this year’s Ryder Cup team.
The 30-year-old Pavon’s sensational opening round had nine birdies and a single bogey to reach eight under par. He turned in 29 after reeling off six birdies on the front nine before adding three more gains and one bogey down the stretch.
Maximilian Kieffer was alone in second on six under after making an eagle, five birdies and one bogey in his 65. In the second round Kieffer had an eagle on 18th and a double bogey on fifth as he was even par for the day with four holes to play.
France’s Julien Guerrier and China’s Wu Ashun, who shot 5-under 66 each in first round, had just begun the second round with pars.
Kochhar lies 12th as veteran Jeev also makes cut in Korea
The long-hitting Karandeep Kochhar fired an eagle on a Par-4 for the second time in as many days and was the best Indian at tied-12th in the GS Caltex Maekyung Open.
With rounds of 69-69, Kochhar was 4-under for two rounds.
Kochhar was one of the four Indians to make the cut and that included veteran Jeev Milkha Singh (71-70), who despite missing a lot of fairways and greens in regulation hung in for a 1-under 70 and made it in tied-41st place alongside Honey Baisoya (69-72). Gaganjeet Bhullar (69-72) was tied 57.
Shiv Kapur (73-71) and Ajeetesh Sandhu 72-72 missed the cut on a day when it was raining and was gloomy.
Korean Chanmin Jung, who held the first round lead at eight-under-par 63, came back from a double bogey on the first hole to card a 68 and stayed in the lead at Namseoul Country Club.
Chamin was 11 under, two ahead of Korea’s Junghwan Lee, who carded a 66. Yubin Jang (64), amateur Taeyang Jung (65), and Bio Kim (68), the defending champion, were tied third.
Chanmin Jung, 23, a professional for three years, has recorded two top 10s on the Korean PGA Tour.
Bio Kim is once again in contention at an event he won in 2012.
Jang, winner of five amateur events including last year’s World University Golf Championships in Italy, made nine birdies on Friday for the joint lowest round of the day, with Australian Kevin Yuan.
Chouhan ensures cut at UAE Challenge
Om Prakash Chouhan made his first cut outside India, on the European Challenge Tour despite carding 2-over 74 in the second round of the UAE Challenge here on Friday.
The 36-year-old Chouhan, who stunned a strong field to win the Duncan Taylor Black Bull Challenge in March in India, had three bogeys against just one birdie as he battled it out on a day when things did not seem to go his way.
Put alongside his first round 3-under 69 on the first day, he was 1-under 143 for two days and tied 39th when he finished play.
The USD 300,000 tour event is the second one in Abu Dhabi as the European Challenge returned here after 10 years.
Though a lot of players were still on the Saadiyat Beach Course, Chouhan was safely into the weekend rounds. After winning the Black Bull Challenge, the six-time winner on Indian PGTI Tour missed the cuts at KGA Challenge and the Abu Dhabi Challenge last week.
The first-round leader, Ivan Cantero Gutierrez of Spain, shot 70 in the second round after the first-round 67 to be 7-under. He was one behind Scotsman Craig Howie, who, after a 69 on Day 1, was 5-under for the day and 8-under for the tournament with two more holes to play.
Another Spaniard Joel Moscatel Nachshon was also at a 7-under total with six holes to go. Jeppe Kristian Andersen (70-68) was the sole fourth a six-under.
Maverick Antcliff (71-68), Liam Johnston (73-66) and Jaco Prinsloo (71-68) had finished at 5-under, while Manuel Elvira was also at 5-under total with one more hole to play.
Asia-Oceania Junior Billie Jean King Cup: India loses to New Zealand
Asmi Adkar won the second singles in a dramatic fashion, saving a bunch of match points, against Aishi Das 1-6, 7-6(10), [11-9], but India was beaten 2-1 by New Zealand in the play-off match for the 9th-12th spots in the Asia-Oceania Junior Billie Jean King Cup under-16 girls tennis tournament in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, on Friday.
India will play Indonesia for the 11th spot on Saturday.
In the semifinals, host Kazakhstan beat Australia 2-1 and Japan beat Korea by the same margin. With only the top three teams qualifying for the World Group competition, Australia and Korea will fight for the third spot.
Play-off (9-12 place): New Zealand bt India 2-1 (Lucia Gale bt Sejal Bhutada 6-2, 6-1; Aishi Das lost to Asmi Adkar 6-1, 6-7(10), [9-11]; Aishi & Lucia bt Asmi & Aakruti Sonkusare 6-4, 6-4).
Bopanna and Ebden in Madrid final
Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden fought their way into the doubles final of the €8,796,536 Madrid ATP tennis tournament with a 5-7, 7-6(3), [10-4] win over Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
The Indo-Aussie pair will play the singles specialists Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev in the final.
In the $40,000 ITF women’s event in Tbilisi, Georgia, Ankita Raina was beaten in the semifinals by Stacey Fung of Canada, but won the doubles title with Ekaterine Gorgodze. It was the second doubles title of the season and 27th career doubles title in the professional circuit for the 30-year-old Ankita.
In the $15,000 ITF event in Tunisia, qualifier Vaishnavi Adkar was in both the singles and doubles semifinals.
- Kamesh Srinivasan
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