Young hopes of tomorrow
The 2010 CWG at New Delhi had paved the way for India doing consistently well in table tennis at international meets, throwing up juniors like Soumyajit Ghosh, Harmeet Desai, G. Sathiyan and Ankita Das, to name a few. No doubt, we heavily cling on to this bunch for India’s medal fortunes at every international meet and major Games.
With the advent of Manav Thakkar, Parth Virmani, Manush Shah, Anukram Jain, Regan Albuquerque, Snehit Suravajjalu, Ashwin Subramanian in the boys section and Archana Kamath, Sreeja Akula, Shruti Amrute, Shrushthi Helangadi, Selenadeepthi Selvakumar, Payal Bohra, Varuni Jaiswal and Priyanka Parekh in the girls’ category, the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) and, for that matter, Indian table tennis can feel proud that the supply line which got snapped a bit has now been restored. The recent successes of these boys and girls indicate consistent growth, besides the medal count showing a steady upward trend. This augurs well for the sport.
Another distinct advantage—they are still sub-juniors—is that they are eligible to compete in any ITTF’s Cadet programme. Most of these boys and girls, on a given day, can beat one another and hence capable of getting selected to represent India in the forthcoming Asian Cadet event.
And, if they perform well in this event, it will provide the ticket to be part of the continental team to represent the World Cadet Challenge to be held at Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt between October 21 and 31 this year. But those who fail to make it to the Asian team need not despair because individually they can still hope to compete in the World Cadet event as the ITTF gives 16 slots, based on their world rankings.
In fact, Archana was part of the Asian team that represented the continent at the World Cadet Challenge last year when she was picked, based on her performance at the Asian Juniors held at Mumbai. She travelled to Georgetown (Barbados) and rubbed shoulders with top paddlers from around the world, besides being in the thick of things with those from the Asian continent.
After the trip to the West Indies, Archana confided how fortunate she was to be selected into the squad and how useful the experience had been. The exposure she got there has stood in her good stead in domestic tournaments where she has been dominating the scene. But when Shrushthi upset her in the singles final at the South Asian championships held recently in New Delhi, she felt the pinch.
The minor setback, though upset her, Archana was ready to make amends. That attitude is what exemplifies the confidence of this younger bunch. It is willing to traverse the difficult path. This never-say-die attitude is a good habit to possess, both for the players as well as to the sport because if they grow, the game also grows.