UTT 2019: Krittwika Sinha Roy counting the positives in elite company

Foreign players' attitude towards losses has been a revelation for Dabang Delhi's krittwika

Krittwika Sinha Roy, playing against Sutirtha Mukherjee, finished on the wrong side of a close contest; losing her second golden point this season and going down 2-1. (FILE PHOTO)

Krittwika Sinha Roy, playing against Sutirtha Mukherjee, finished on the wrong side of a close contest; losing her second golden point this season and going down 2-1. (FILE PHOTO)   -  G. Ramakrishna

Krittwika Sinha Roy has had to face a few hiccups so far in her second stint at the Ultimate Table Tennis.

In her first singles contest last week, against Ayhika Mukherjee, she had struggled to deal with the noise and the buzz and went down 3-0. On Monday, she admittedly dealt with the scenario much better, but was impeded in her rubber against Sutirtha Mukherjee by the moisture absorbed by her racquet. Eventually, she finished on the wrong side of a close contest; losing her second golden point this season, she went down 2-1.

In the overall scheme of things, however, it didn’t hurt much as her team – Dabang Delhi T.T.C. - ensured a 9-6 victory over U Mumba.

“At first, it was difficult for me [to concentrate amidst the noise]. In the first match [last week], I missed my serve in the golden point in the last game. It broke my concentration as all of a sudden [there was] so much noise. The LED lights went up, and I missed my service. This match, I was ready for the golden point. [There were] a few lucky points in the second game. But you have to be prepared for it because you need crowd, you need traction, so you have to adjust with everything. Now, I’m getting used to it,” she told Sportstar after the contest.

“My rubber was catching moisture because [it] is new, and also the balls are new. [My racquet] was catching moisture and my rubber was totally oily. So, it wasn’t gripping; [the ball] was going into the net repeatedly. Then I had to wipe it [a lot],” she said.

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“[It lasted throughout the game] because there is so much [wind] here and also because of the new balls and the new rubber. I play with a hard rubber; the harder it is, the more moisture it catches,” she added.

“From the second game I was getting more confident. But in the second game, she got many lucky points. I was getting irritated, because in the first match also, against Ayhika, I lost two golden points and she had also got many lucky points. So that match was coming into my mind. I had lost to her in a similar way in the first match. I lost the golden point again today. In the third game, I was really pissed off when I started to play and I wanted to play anything – so I started to hit, service and attack, service and attack,” she revealed.

Playing a familiar opponent in the pressure cooker of the UTT also made it a little tricky. “[Sutirtha] is also my clubmate. We train under the same coach – [U Mumba’s] Soumyadeep Roy. Me, Sutirtha, also two players from U Mumba – we are all from the same club, the same academy in Calcutta. So it was also difficult for me, I was sometimes staring at my coach [to know] why I was missing [my strokes]. It was difficult, because I train every day with her and we both know each others’ games so much but we were under intense pressure, so neither of us could play our own game. We [just about managed it]. The game wasn’t very good but to collect some points for the team is good,” she said.

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Pressure and noise it may entail, but the UTT is valuable, too. There is much to learn from foreign players in the team, according to Krittwika. “What I have seen is how positive they are even after they lose. They don’t say a single negative word. They also make me feel positive and say good things about me. When you see that the top players [in the world] are sitting behind you, you get more motivation. It is really good; you get to practice with them, you get to stay with them, lead a life together with them. This is not possible beyond this league. So, this [has had] a good impact on Indian table tennis,” she pointed out.

Currently ranked 220 in the world, Krittwika has been performing well of late. She finished as the runner-up in the women’s singles at the National Championships in January 2019, and last month, took gold alongside Pooja Sahasrabudhe in women’s doubles at the Commonwealth Championships. After having been absent from competitions due to injury - left knee meniscus tear - for the best part of two years, the trajectory is on the up again for her.

“Internationally also, I played very well [this year]. I reached the round of 16 [and the] round of 32 in the ITTF Challenge in Serbia [and] Slovenia,” she points out.

She hopes to improve her ranking further. “Goal is now to improve my world ranking because in 2017, I hadn’t taken part [in too many competitions] because of my injury. So my ranking had dropped down to 825 at the start of this year. I didn’t play in 2017 and 2018, because I wanted to improve my domestic ranking first and then play internationally. Portugal Open in February this year was my first international competition after returning from injury]. I lost in the round of 32,” she says.

What are her goals in the rest of the year? “Now I’m back on track again. I’m in top five [in India] in the women’s rankings. Let’s see if I can play the Asian qualifications for the Olympics and also we have [South Zone National Ranking Championship] next. We have to go directly from here. We’ll hopefully play well,” she signs off.

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