Top Indian paddlers give National Ranking tournament a miss

While Sharath, Sathiyan will be playing in the super division of the Bundesliga league, Harmeet is playing in the Polish league.

Manav Thakkar said his aim is to win the youth and men’s titles.   -  S. Siva Saravanan

The fifth and penultimate National-ranking — East Zone — table tennis tournament begins at the R.G. Baruah Sports Complex on Tuesday.

The tournament with no great significance as such will be bereft of four of India’s top paddlers: A. Sharath Kamal, G. Sathiyan, Harmeet Desai and Manika Batra.

While Sharath, Sathiyan will be playing in the super division of the Bundesliga league, Harmeet is playing in the Polish league. However, there is no official word on Manika except that she is skipping the event for “personal reasons.”

For a few others, it will be a tournament to prove their steady growth. Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath are two such, who have performed well this season.

Seeded one and second respectively in the men’s and women’s sections, Manav and Archana will be eager to win the title and catch the next flight to Argentina.

They will be representing India in the Youth Olympics to be held in Buenos Aires from October 6.

 “I want to win the youth and men’s crowns this time,” asserted Manav to Sportstar on Monday, before starting his practice session.

The 18-year-old said it has been an important year for him as he played in the Ultimate Table Tennis League, was part of the men’s Asian Games team, which won a historic bronze. 

“I trained with the senior players at the National camp, played in a couple of Pro Tours. And after the South Zone National-ranking [Vijayawada], I trained for a while with Sharath in Chennai, which has enabled me to hone my technique,” he said.

A. Amalraj, winner of the previous South Zone event, and seeded two, said he wants do well, but his focus would be to improve his world rankings. 

“I am improving. My target is to get my rankings into the top 100 [he is currently 149],” he said.

There are dark horses in men’s including youngsters, S.R.F. Snehit, Jeet Chandra (seeded joint ninth), and in women’s there is Ayhika Mukherjee and Divya Deshpande (seeded joint third).

The top seed, however, is Sutirtha Mukherjee.

Of all the players, former men's National champion Sanil Shetty will be more than keen to claim his first title this season. His best has been a semifinal finish in the North Zone in Panchkula.

Tuesday will witness men's and women's qualification matches.

The men’s and women’s finals, youth (boys and girls) finals will be held on September 28, while the junior (boys and girls) summit clash will be on September 29 and the sub-junior and cadets finals on September 30.