No time to recover for paddlers at National Championship

Of the first four days, including Monday, the paddlers have been competing till almost midnight. Moreover, the last two days will see the singles events featuring eight rounds of the main draw.

A. Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra at the 11Sports 80th Inter-state and Senior National Championship in Cuttack on Monday.   -  Amol Karhadkar

So incommodious is the schedule at the 11Sports 80th Inter-state and Senior National Championship that the paddlers just don’t have breathing all through six days.

Of the first four days, including Monday, the paddlers have been competing till almost midnight. Moreover, the last two days will see the singles events featuring eight rounds of the main draw.

READ: Sharath Kamal interacts with young paddlers

Besides, men and women doubles will also be played over these two days. Add to that the heavy workload they have had during the team championship, qualification rounds and the mixed doubles and one wonders if the players actually enjoy playing in the most prestigious tournament of the year in India.

Most players and coaches feel it’s high time the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) finds a viable solution. Either the duration should be increased from six to seven days or the number of entries be capped or the doubles events should be sacrificed.

“It is just not fair to treat players this way, especially when Indian table tennis is on the rise. We have two top-30 men and a girl who is on the verge of breaking into top-50 in the World participating in the premier tournament. If the best players of the country have to been seen in the best of action, the scheduling has to be in the best interest of these top players. I am afraid, they have got it wrong!” S. Raman, multiple National champion and personal coach of World No. 31 G. Sathiyan told Sportstar.

“I recall the Pune Nationals (in 2002) where in 36 hours I had to play from round one till the final. I won the title but that’s not the point. It seems nothing has changed.”

The TTFI claims it has decided to address the issue. “We have realised the heavy workload on players and officials, so it has been decided that from next season, all major tournaments will be played over seven days,” said M.P. Singh, the TTFI secretary general.

PSPB assured of mixed doubles title

Top seeds Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath outlclassed Railways’ Ravindra Kotiyan and Sagarika Mukherjee in straight games to set up the mixed doubles final against PSPB senior and second seed A. Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra. It would be interesting to see if the youngsters who hardly got any game time during the team event can justify their top billing against the Asian Games bronze medallist pair on Tuesday.

The results

Mixed doubles: Semifinals: Manav Thakkar & Archana Kamath (PSPB) bt Ravindra Kotiyan & Sagarika Mukherjee (RSPB) 11-3, 11-5, 11-7; A. Sharath Kamal & Manika Batra (PSPB) bt Sourav Saha & Sutirtha Mukherjee (Har) 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9.

Quarterfinals: Manav & Archana bt Abhishek Yadav & Suhana Narjinary (UP) 11-7, 11-7, 11-6; Ravindra & Sagarika bt Ronit Bhanja & Ayhika Mukherjee (WB) 8-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7; Sourav & Sutirtha (Har) bt S.F.R. Snehit & Sreeja Akula (Tel) 11-5, 3-11, 11-6, 11-7; Sharath & Manika bt Asif Khan & Priyanka Pareek (Raj) 13-11, 11-7, 14-12.