With no Sathiyan, field wide open at UTT-National ranking central zone tournament

The withdrawal of India’s top paddler G. Sathiyan has left the door open yet again for a possible new men’s singles champion to emerge.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

FILE PHOTO: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran of India during Tokyo 2020.   -  AP

The withdrawal of India’s top paddler G. Sathiyan from the UTT-National ranking Central Zone table tennis tournament beginning at the Abhay Prashal Indoor Stadium in Indore on Tuesday has left the door open yet again for a possible new men’s singles champion to emerge.

All the three previous National ranking tournaments have had three different men’s winners - Sharath Kamal (North Zone, Panchkula), Sanil Shetty (Dehra Dun), and Harmeet Desai (South Zone, Puducherry).

And this time, too, the field looks wide open in the absence of Sharath and Sathiyan.

The women’s field is also pretty even with very little to separate the top five players. Prapti Sen (North Zone winner), Sutirtha Mukherjee (Dehra Dun), and Sreeja Akula (South Zone) have triumphed so far.

READ: Manav Thakkar re-defining his game in career's new phase

Speaking to Sportstar on Monday, Sathiyan said he’s not feeling well and hence has decided to withdraw. “Feeling feverish, better to rest and recover and get ready for the Senior Nationals. Also, it’s better to stay safe and I don’t want to put others at risk,” he said.

Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath are riding on momentum having won the men’s and women’s crowns in the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board inter-unit tournament held at the same venue a few days back. 

“Very excited. I hit peak form at the right time. Defeating Sathiyan in the semifinals of the PSPB inter-unit was indeed special. Moreover, I have not won any domestic title this season and looking forward to it," said Manav.

Qualifier Archana didn't want to attach too much importance to the PSPB inter-unit win. “Each tournament is different. My win there will have no bearing here,” she said.

All the players and officials underwent an Antigen test for the virus at the venue after which seven players were tested positive.

Competition Manager N. Ganeshan said that out of the seven players who then underwent RTPCR Test, four have tested positive and they will have to return home to avoid the risk of infecting others.

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