South Zone National ranking tournament: Sanil Shetty keen on maintaining good form

Sanil Shetty, the top-seeded men’s singles player, won his first National-ranking tournament in Dehradun last week nearly after six years.

Sanil Shetty, top seeded player in the National Ranking Table Tennis (South Zone) Tournament – 2021, in Puducherry on Monday.   -  S.S. Kumar

Sanil Shetty’s career is on the upswing and is keen to ride on the good form he’s in right now.

The 32-year-old heaved a huge sigh of relief when he won his first National-ranking tournament in Dehradun last week nearly after six years. The last time he clinched a men’s singles title in a domestic event was the North Zone title in 2013-14; the year he bagged his first National championships crown.

“I must have competed in nearly 20 National-ranking tournaments since then and must have played in 10 finals. I felt relieved,” Sanil Shetty, the top-seeded men’s singles player, told Sportstar here on Monday, on the eve of the South Zone National ranking tournament.

More than the losses in tournaments, it was the repeated defeats to A. Amalraj that troubled him no end. It was when he beat Amalraj in the 2018 North Zone quarterfinals after six-odd previous failures that gave him the momentum to start a new mini-innings.

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“It took time for me to adapt to changes in rubber, balls and other things. Also, I was not comfortable playing with Amal. Beating Amal in the seventh and deciding game after trailing 1-5 to win 11-5 in the North Zone quarterfinals was the turning point of my career,” said Sanil.

With a fresh and positive mind, Sanil is eager to do well here. “I am playing well, and my game has improved. Ideally, the way I am playing, I should reach the final,” he said.

Harmeet Desai, on the other hand, is having a relatively quiet season. The 28-year-old, who recently got married to co-player Krittwika Sinha Roy, is of the opinion that things will not be easy, even in the absence of India’s top stars, Sharath Kamal and G. Sathiyan. “There are 5-6 players who can win the title. The competition will be tough,” he said.

The men’s and women’s singles main draw will begin on Tuesday.

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