Stay close to table, exhorts Amalraj

The national champion says staying away from the table will reduce the sting of the rally; often helping the opponent to gain the upper hand with his/her whiplash drives and smashes.

Anthony Amalraj: “My next target is Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in 2018."   -  M. Vedhan

According to National table tennis champion Anthony Amalraj, "The present-day game is for players who stay close to table and play."

"Speed and power are the essential ingredients of modern-day table tennis and both the equipment and the rules are favouring the fast-moving game,” the Arjuna awardee told Sportstar at the inaugural session of the 11Sports National table tennis championship in Vijayawada.

Defence on the wane

The champion paddler reckoned the defence was fast disappearing and there were just a couple of players in the international arena pursuing it as a strategy.

“The chance for a defence player to win is feeble. It is ineffective. Both the balls, rubbers and the blades were modified enabling the game to emerge faster and swifter, primarily to grab the eyeballs of the television viewers.  Making the tussle more engrossing is the thumb rule,” avers the champ.

“Even the element of spin which was dominant earlier is on the wane”.

The national champion says staying away from the table will reduce the sting of the rally; often helping the opponent to gain the upper hand with his/her whiplash drives and smashes.

Indian paddlers on the rise

Amalraj, who is currently training in Spain, says India has steadily moved forward in achievements - thanks to the hard working paddlers and the pro-active policies of the federation.

“Earlier the dream of an Indian paddler was to win a national title and aim for a medal in the Commonwealth championship. But now we have started winning pro-tour medals and upset players from the European circuits."

He says the next five years will be crucial for Indian players and with their persistent hard work and dedication, they will begin to upset the powerhouses such as Japan, China and Korea.

“Remember these Asian countries were consistently performing for over five decades.

“With professional outfits like 11 Sports coming forward to promote the game at the grassroots level, table tennis is on the highway and the results will soon start to trickle in,” says the champion.

Recognition to spur success

For the Chennai paddler, the long wait was over when he bagged the prestigious Arjuna Award and he feels the national recognition will propel him to cross bigger milestones. “My next target is Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in 2018."

However, the laurels were not instant for the 30-year-old. “Though I was technically sound, I was mentally weak. At one point in time, I was losing in the semifinals repeatedly to top players like Sharath Kamal. I sought the help of sports psychologists to overcome mental barriers”.

The champion, who has six pro-tour medals under his belt, says defeating India’s top paddler Sharath Kamal in the final of an inter-institutional tournament in 2007 was a fulfilling moment since the win made the world to take a good look at him. “But I lost to Soumyajit Ghosh twice in the Olympic qualification contests which still rankles me."