Quality of balls, the bone of contention at National ranking tournament

Ace paddler Sharath Kamal and A. Amalraj have expressed their displeasure on the irregular spin and bounce of the Stag 'Premium' balls being used at the 11Sports-West Zone National-ranking table tennis tournament in Pune.

Many players have expressed their displeasure regarding with the type of Stag balls used at the tournament. (Representational Image)   -  Jignesh Mistry

The quality of balls has been the bone of contention in the 11Sports-West Zone National-ranking table tennis tournament at the Balewadi Sports Complex here.

Ace paddler Sharath Kamal and Anthony Amalraj have expressed their displeasure on the irregular spin and bounce of the Stag 'Premium' balls being used here, during their pre-quarterfinal matches. Many other players are also unhappy with the type of Stag balls used.

The problem surfaced at the first zonal tournament of the season — the North Zone tournament held in Panchkula. When Sharath requested that players change to  'Supreme' from 'Premium', the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) was apparently not convinced. One of the reasons reportedly cited was the shortage of Supreme balls.

More players began to complain about the balls in the next tournament, the Central Zone in Indore. However, the situation remained the same as the players were asked to play with Premium balls.

Sharath used his personal contacts and took the initiative in getting back the Supreme balls, which was used earlier in the Ranchi National championships last year, with help of TTFI. Finally, 'Supreme' balls were employed at the Inter-Institutional tournament in Coimbatore. Inexplicably, at the next two events, the South Zone in Vijayawada and East Zone in Guwahati, TTFI went back to Premium.

"The spin and speed of the ball was inconsistent. There were times when the ball just 'dies down'," Sharath said, explaining the nature of Premium balls.

TTFI has finally relented and agreed to use 'Supreme' balls. M.P Singh, Secretary of TTFI, has assured that 'Supreme' will be used in the forthcoming National championships across all categories. “Definitely, we will change it,” Singh told Sportstar on Tuesday.