National Table Tennis Championship: Challenges galore for TTFI

A secure bio-bubble, scores of protocols, getting the players and officials to follow the instructions in ensuring smooth conduct of the ‘singles-only’ competition forms the core of TTFI's challenges over the next nine days.

Table-Tennis

The women's singles will be played fro,m February 15-18, while the men's competition will begin on February 20.

After the Wrestling Federation of made a mess of hosting its National freestyle championship for men in Noida and women in Agra, it is the turn of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to stand the test of time when its National championship gets underway at Panchkula on Tuesday.

A first-hand experience of the logical challenges faced by the host Haryana Table Tennis Association (HTTA) suggests no effort is spared in making the event a success in spite of several challenges in the face of the pandemic.

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A secure bio-bubble, scores of protocols, getting the players and officials to follow the instructions in ensuring smooth conduct of the ‘singles-only’ competition forms the core of the challenges over the next nine days.

After doing away with the team championships and the three doubles events, the TTFI is starting with the women’s singles.

At the outset, only players with negative RT-PCR test reports are allowed to enter the venue. These tests are carried out free of cost outside the venue and the reports are available within four hours.

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The matches will be played on 12 tables. At any given time, the Field of Play (FOP) allows only 24 players, their coaches and 24 umpires besides two officials. At the conclusion of the first set of matches, the next set of 24 players and officials are ready in the “Call Area”. They enter the FOP only after it is sanitised.

At the conclusion of the ladies’ competition on February 18 and upon their departure, hotel rooms will be sanitised and allotted to the male competitors. The four-day men’s singles will commence after a day’s rest on February 20.

In terms of the field, Manika Batra leads 16 players into the main draw where they will be joined by 48 qualifiers. In the qualifying stage, there are 47 groups of three players and one group consists of four. The group toppers advance to the knockout phase.

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Though Manika is ranked as low as 18th in the National rankings after she played in the Inter-Institutional championship and skipped the rest of the domestic circuit in the previous season, TTFI made her the top seed due to her world ranking of 63.

Since there has been no domestic competition since the last National championship in February 2020, the form of the players is unknown. Hence, a surprise winner cannot be ruled out.

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