Top seed Sharath gets a favourable draw

For G. Sathiyan, the second seed, it may not be smooth sailing. At the bottom half, he might run into some difficult players.

Placed in top half of the draw, Sharath Kamal might run into Saurav Saha in the pre-quarterfinals and Sougata Sarkar or Utkarsh Gupta in the next round.   -  R. Ragu

India’s star paddler Sharath Kamal hopes his first visit to the district for the LIC-South Zone National-ranking table tennis tournament beginning here on Wednesday, will prove beneficial. And the draw too, appears to favour the top seed from Chennai.

The 35-year-old believes he can go all the way. “I am coming there leaving my family, [so] I better win it [the title],” Sharath told Sportstar on Tuesday, while adding that the tournament will be a good preparation for the Asia Cup in Ahmedabad from September 15 to 17.

Placed in top half of the draw, Sharath might run into Saurav Saha in the pre-quarterfinals and Sougata Sarkar or Utkarsh Gupta in the next round. "In my draw, there are lot of young players including Manav Thakkar and Arjun Ghosh," Sharath said.

For G. Sathiyan, the second seed, it may not be smooth sailing. At the bottom half, he might run into some difficult players.

Sathiyan could play against Devesh Karia, a dangerous floater in the pre-quarterfinals and could potentially face Sanil Shetty in the quarterfinals. Harmeet Desai and A. Amalraj are in Sathiyan’s half. The 24-year-old, however, has been in sublime form for the last three months winning the Central Zone, All-India inter-institutional titles and performing exceptionally well in the Ultimate Table Tennis league. Sathiyan would be brimming with confidence going into the tournament.

Former National champion Soumyajit Ghosh will be the most prominent absentee. This is the second tournament this season he will miss after the Central Zone.

In the women’s section, Pooja Sahasrabudhe is seeded one followed by Sutirtha Mukherjee. Pooja will possibly face seven-time National champion and last year’s runner-up Poulomi Ghatak in the quarterfinals, which could turn out to be tricky for the No. 1 player.

If at all Pooja wins, she will run into the reigning National champion Madhurika Patkar in the semifinals.

On the other hand, Sutirtha has been handed a good draw with more upcoming players at the bottom half. Archana Kamath, the 17-year-old from Karnataka, might fancy her chances of reaching the semifinals.

Interestingly, top players Manika Batra and Mouma Das will play in the qualifiers. While Mouma didn't take part in the two previous tournaments, Manika was unlucky.

During the open draw, Archana and Poulomi edged out Manika in the toss (for the seventh and eight spots) as all the three with 55 points each were joint seventh in the National rankings.

Dharwad last conducted a major National table tennis tournament when it hosted the All-India inter-institutional tournament in 2013 with Ghosh and K. Shamini winning the crowns respectively.