National-ranking Table Tennis: Sharath, Manika lend quality to season-opener

Manika is seeded second behind National champion Sutirtha Mukherjee while the presence of eight-time National champion Sharath Kamal in the men's draw is significant.

In the last National championship final, Sutirtha bounced back from the brink of defeat to outwit Manika.   -  SHUV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Manika Batra, armed with a new-found stardom following her exploits in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, could find it tough against familiar opposition when the new domestic season begins with the National ranking (North Zone) table tennis championship here on Thursday.

Manika, part of the Dabang Smashers’ triumphant campaign in the Ultimate Table Tennis league last weekend, is seeded second behind National champion Sutirtha Mukherjee. In the last National championship final, Sutirtha bounced back from the brink of defeat to outwit Manika.

Among the men, the presence of eight-time National champion Sharath Kamal is significant. Sharath, who is keen to get into a better physical shape ahead of the Korea Open leading to the Jakarta Asian Games next month, is likely to miss the next event in Indore.

With the top-ranked G. Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai away in Hong Kong, Sharath and A. Amalraj could set up a repeat of this year’s National final. However, the second seed will have to deal with Sanil Shetty and Manav Thakkar.

With over 1400 entries, the action begins with the age-group sections before culminating with the seniors on July 10.