Sathiyan sets higher goals

“Looking forward to breaking into 80s and 70s now. Top-100 is almost there, so it's not that motivating any longer. I am looking forward to breaking into 60s and 70s,” Sathiyan tells Sportstar.

“I've been working hard. For the last four years, ever since I finished my engineering, I have been working really hard,” Sathiyan says.   -  R. V. Moorthy

If world rankings is a yardstick, Indian table tennis is at its peak. Three of Indias men – A. Sharath Kamal (44), Harmeet Desai (81) and Soumyajit Ghosh (84) – are already in the top-100. And G. Sathiyan, the Chennai charmer, is on the cusp of breaking into the league, placed at 102 after the last month's update.

No wonder then that Sathiyan, who pocketed his maiden ITTF title by winning a World Tour event in Belgium last year, is upbeat at the start of India's domestic season. “I've been working hard. For the last four years, ever since I finished my engineering, I have been working really hard. Everyone felt like it was a surprise, but hard work hard been put in for years. I have reached my highest world ranking, so it's a great feeling,” Sathiyan told Sportstar ahead of the Central Zone National Ranking table tennis tournament here.

“Looking forward to breaking into 80s and 70s now. Top-100 is almost there, so it's not that motivating any longer. I am looking forward to breaking into 60s and 70s. Playing more Pro Tour events will be helpful for that. I just hope I can keep going in the same vein and keep working hard.”

Besides setting the prime target of the season, Sathiyan is also desperate to cause some upsets in the Ultimate Table Tennis, the franchise-based league that will kick-off in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbia next month.

“Indian table tennis is already making a mark and with a league like this will definitely help Indian table tennis players. I am hopeful that I can pull off some upsets. I have already beaten two of the overseas players who have been picked in the draft,” said Sathiyan, who will represent Dabang Smashers T.T.C in the six-team league.

“It's really special. We have always seen a league on table tennis. Being a part of the league in itself is exciting. It's been in the pipeline for over a year, but finally it's there. Quite excited. It's a great platform. Playing against the top players in the world in my city, Chennai, it's going to be great.”