2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Championships
Yogyakarta, Saturday 14th September
Significant progress, India aiming for next step
List the country that has made the greatest progress since the most recent Asian Championships were staged in 2017 in the Chinese city of Wuxi, India would be high on the list.
In the forthcoming edition of the tournament, play commencing in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta on Sunday 15th September; their names do not necessarily appear amongst the major medal contenders. However, it is well within the bounds of possibility that they can continue their climb and end matters with one if not more podium places.
The year 2018 was ground breaking for India; their players excelled expectations, they moved to a new level; the Commonwealth Games in April in Gold Coast, Australia, followed by the Asian Games in September in Jakarta were watershed tournaments.
At the Commonwealth Games, the star of the show was Manika Batra; contrary to expectations she joined forces with Madhurika Patkar and Mouma Das to secure women’s team gold, the trio accounting for the clear favourites, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan in the final.
Later, Manika Batra was to win the women’s singles title beating Yu Mengyu in the final but the results to note were those against Feng Tianwei; she beat the London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist in both the women’s team final and in the women’s singles penultimate round.
Similarly, selecting Sharath Kamal Achanta, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai, the men’s team title was secured. Additionally, Sharath Kamal Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran emerged men’s doubles silver medallists, as in the women’s doubles did Manika Batra and Mouma Das. Also there was men’s singles bronze for Sharath Kamal Achanta; a situation that applied also for Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty in the men’s doubles and for Sathiyan Gnanasekaran alongside Manika Batra in the mixed doubles.
The end result was that India topped the medal table in the table tennis event at the 2019 Commonwealth Games.
Success in the Gold Coast, five months in Jakarta, there was more success; a quarter-final for the trio of Sharath Kamal Achanta, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai against Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira, Jin Ueda and Masaki Yoshida secured India’s first ever medal in the table tennis events at the Asian Games.
Furthermore, this year the success has continued, in July on home soil in Cuttack, India completed a clean sweep of titles at the 2019 Commonwealth Championships; the progress since 2017 endorsed and underlined.
In Yogyakarta, Sharath Kamal Achanta, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai are once again on duty; they line up alongside Amalraj Anthony and Manav Vikash Thakkar in both the men’s team and men’s singles events. Somewhat differently, in the women’s selection for both team and singles there is no Mouma Das; Manika Batra and Madhurika Patkar, who played such a prominent role in Gold Coast, join forces with Archana Girish Kamath, Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee.
In the men’s team event, India occupies the no.7 seeded position, for the women it is one place lower; Sathiyan Gnanasekaran is the highest seeded Indian player in the men’s singles, he is named in the no.11 spot, for the women the honour belongs to Manika Batra, she is the no.24 seed.
Tough tasks ahead but does India have a greater chance of medal success in the doubles events? Sharath Kamal Achanta and Manika Batra are the mixed doubles no.9 seeds, Sharath Kamal Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaram the men’s doubles no.6 seeds, Manika Batra and Archana Girish Kamath, the no.12 seeds in the women’s doubles event.
In all events as the seeding is considered, India is just below the line for a medal but nowadays the team spirit and sense of belief is at an all-time high; in Yogyakarta they could well cross the line.
Editor: Ian Marshall
Photo Credit: Matt Roberts