Manika Batra has leapfrogged over her Indian counterparts in the last one year or so in the women’s international rankings, which is now at 166, though her best position had been 133 early in the year.
That has probably more to do with her consistent performance in the ITTF u-21 category (she is ranked 62) where the ranking points in the youth category are added to the women’s.
This is not to say that she has not done well in the seniors. Far from that, the 20-year-old from Delhi has done well on the international scene, having worked hard on her game to become a more-rounded player.
In the first stage of the Avadh 20th Commonwealth championships here on Wednesday, Manika played her part to perfection as India won both their matches against Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka, with identical 3-0 margins to qualify for the second stage.
The Indian men, too, reached the second stage with 3-0 victories over Jersey and Trinidad & Tobago.
Against Northern Ireland, Mouma Das gave the team a headstart with an 11-5, 11-6, 11-1 win over Ashley Givan. Manika enhanced the lead with an 11-7, 11-8, 11-1 triumph over Emma Ludlow while K. Shamini closed out the tie, drubbing Emma Mcsorley 11-5, 11-0, 11-5.
The team repeated the feat against the hapless Sri Lankans.
Against Jersey in the men’s section, Soumyajit Ghosh started the campaign with a straight-game win over Hugo Tupper, a University student. Local boy Harmeet Desai, playing in his second championships, eased past Jordan Wykes, who at 16 years is the youngest in the event.
Devesh Karia, another paddler from Gujarat, who is playing his first match at this level, didn’t show any signs of pressure as he raced to an 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 win over Joshua Band.
Later India drubbed Trinidad & Tobago, with G. Sathiyan and A. Amalraj doing their job along with Ghosh.
The draw for the women’s second stage (to be played on Thursday) saw India being grouped with Cyprus and Wales. In the other group, Singapore is grouped with England and Sri Lanka. The top two from each group will play in a criss-cross semifinals.
The results: First Stage: Men: Group A: Singapore bt New Zealand 3-0; Singapore bt Sri Lanka 3-0; B: India bt Jersey 3-0; India bt Trinidad & Tobago 3-0; C: England bt Wales 3-0; England bt Northern Ireland 3-0.
Women: Group A: Singapore bt Cyprus 3-0; Singapore bt South Africa 3-1; B: India bt Northern Ireland 3-0; India bt Sri Lanka 3-0; C: England bt Trinidad & Tobago 3-0.