In what promises to be the best field seen in any international table tennis event in the country since the 1987 World Championship, reigning Olympic singles gold medallists, China’s Ma Long and Chen Meng will lead the star parade when the World Table Tennis (WTT) Star Contender takes place in Panjim, Goa, from February 27 to March 5.
Ma Long, considered a living legend of the game, along with the World champion and No. 1 Fan Zhendong, form part of a classy line-up in men’s singles. World No 4 Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan). World No. 6 Truls Moregard (Sweden), World No. 8. Lin Yun-Ju (Chinese Taipei) and World No. 9 Darko Jorgic (Slovenia) are the other players from the World’s top-10 list.
Among the women, besides Chen, World No 1 Sun Yingsha (Japan), her compatriots Hina Hayata and Kasumi Ishikawa, ranked five and eight, along with World No. 9 Doo Hoi Kim (Hong Kong) and World No. 10 Ying Han (Germany) form the creamy layer.
Another formidable name in the men’s draw is the 2021 Asian champion and the 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist Lee Sang-Su (Korea).
The home interest will revolve around Gnanasekaran Sathiyan (ranked 41st), and Sharath Kamal (47th), who find a place in the men’s singles main draw. Only Manika Batra has made it directly to the women’s main draw.
The qualifying draw will feature National women’s champion Sreeja Akula, Reeth Rishya, Diya Chitale, Swastika Ghosh, the 2019 Commonwealth men’s champion Harmeet Desai and former National champion Sanil Shetty among others.