Don’t look too much into new ranking system, says former India TT coach

Former India table tennis coach Aleksey Yefremov praised country's top-ranked singles player G. Sathiyan, but also expressed his concern about the new world ranking system.

Former Indian national table tennis team coach Aleksey Yefremov (L) at a coaching camp in Kochi.   -  Stan Rayan

Ten years ago, he was India’s national table tennis coach and now Aleksey Yefremov is amazed at the transformation that has taken place in the country.

G. Sathiyan is now the World No. 24, the first Indian to achieve the ranking, while others like Manika Batra have had very impressive runs.

“Sathiyan was a one of the more promising players when I was the Indian coach for a year in 2008-2009, still I’m surprised by his progress and also Manika’s,” said Yefremov now in Kochi for a fortnight-long coaching camp organised by the Regional Sports Centre.

“Players like Sathiyan, Soumyajit Ghosh and Sharath Kamal have natural talent. And  I think they approached the game in the best possible way, many of them stay in Europe and play in strong clubs and also have strong training. So, it is normal to expect quality results from them.”

When if he thinks Sathiyan can get into the top-10 some day, Yefremov replied: “Now, in the new ranking system, everything is possible. In my opinion, the new rankings do not give the real picture, there are many weaknesses. I don’t look too much into the new ranking system.”

“It’s much better to see how you play against the big players and whom you beat, beating a big player is more important to me.”

The new ranking system, which was introduced, is based on the final positions players reach in tournaments regardless of the strength of the opponent. Tournaments are also graded and, among other things, there is no loss of points when one loses a match.

After leaving India, Yefremov has had national coaching assignments in Egypt, Colombia, Peru and now is the head coach of Iceland and works part-time in Norway.

He has fond memories of his time in India and still keeps in touch with the top stars.

“India is always an interesting country for me, if something comes, I’ll be very interested,” the Belarusian said.