Panchkula, Feb 15 (PTI) Reigning women's singles champion Sutirtha Mukherjee seems to have a distinct advantage over the rest of the players in the fray of the 82nd Senior National Table Tennis Championships that began here on Monday.
Though it is difficult to predict the form of the participants, including the top-seeded Manika Batra, the Haryana paddler must have gained immensely from her participation in the state championships at Sonepat.
She was also a part of the 42-day national camp at the same place in October-December last year.
Sutirtha may well have been top-seeded for the championships if the national rankings alone were to be considered. But Manika beat the Haryana player on the strength of her world ranking.
The onus is on the multiple international medal winner to make use of the opportunity and prove that she deserves the limelight. Talking to TTFI Media, the Pune-based paddler said that she has worked hard to get into shape, including hiring a sparring partner from Belarus.
On the other hand, No. 2 Sutirtha has competed in the state championships held at Sonepat in December.
The experience of playing matches can never replace any amount of practice one does, day in and day out. Even before that, Sutirtha was a part of the 42-day national camp, also held at the same place. There she was able to rub shoulders with other top paddlers of the country.
Except for Manika, all other ranked players had participated in the state championships to qualify for the event. That reasonably gives them a fair chance to compete.
Manika knows full well how important it is to get match-fit before any important tournament. When the main draw matches take place on Tuesday it will be known how Manika or, for that matter, the other contenders are prepared for the nationals.
The opening day of the championships saw one round of group matches getting over before the afternoon. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar inaugurated the championships in a glittering function, which included a march-past by the participants.
Dushyant Chautala, Deputy Chief Minister and also the president of TTFI, appreciated the help extended by the Haryana government to make the championships a success.
TTFI, on its part, honoured Khel Ratna Manika, Arjuna Awardee Madhurika Patkar and former national champions K Shamini, Archana Kamath and Ankita Das during the opening ceremony.
The main draw events, which will take place on Tuesday evening, will involve participation of all top seeds.
Top-8 rankings: 1. Manika Batra (PSPB), 2. Sutirtha Mukherjee (Har), 3. Ayhika Mukherjee (RBI), 4. Sreeja Akula (RBI), 5. Krittwika Sinha Roy (PSPB), 6. Anusha Kutumbale (TTFI), 7. Prapti Sen (Ben ‘A’), 8. Kaushani Nath (Rlys). PTI AH APA APA