No Ma Long, however Table Tennis Star Contender has sufficient stalwarts to draw followers5 min read
When organisers of World Table Tennis (WTT) Star Contender Goa obtained entries for the principle occasion, that begins in Panaji on Wednesday, they have been astounded.
Ma Long, two-time Olympic singles champion and three-time world champion had determined to compete on the occasion.
Now, Long is to desk tennis what Lionel Messi is to soccer, Roger Federer is to tennis, and Tom Brady is to NFL. To see him compete stay in India could be a dream come true for lovers of the game.
It was additionally the primary time that the organisers obtained as many as 17 entries from top-20 gamers in each males’s and ladies’s singles. Apart from Long, they included present Olympic ladies’s champion Chen Meng. Unfortunately, WTT has a Play Down Restriction (PDR) that means that solely the highest 6 of the highest 20 gamers can characteristic within the Star Contender occasion. That meant the organisers had an arduous job of telling at the least seven top-20 gamers that they couldn’t come to Goa.
In additional disappointment, simply because the billboards screaming of Long’s presence within the nation have been up and followers had booked tickets with the anticipation of seeing the legend in addition to the highest Chinese contingent enjoying within the nation, WTT introduced that Long, Meng, ladies’s World No. 1 Sun Yingsha and World No. 3 Wang Manyu, and males’s World No. 3 Wang Chuqin had pulled out of the match with both Covid or damage, simply two days earlier than the beginning of the principle draw.
While that was a dampener, China despatched 4 different gamers as replacements for his or her high gamers.
Despite the withdrawals, with WTT nominations and wildcards, the occasion will see as many as 11 top-20 gamers in males’s singles and 10 top-20 gamers in ladies’s singles.
Big occasions, large names
It’s the primary time that India is internet hosting a WTT occasion and that’s because of International Table Tennis Federation’s (ITTF) partnership with Stupa Sports Analytics, an organization based mostly in Delhi that specialises in efficiency analytics and occasion administration. A Star Contender occasion is third within the hierarchy of desk tennis tournaments, under WTT Grand Smash and Champions. The qualifying rounds of the occasion started on the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium in Panaji on Monday.
Megha Gambhir, CEO of Stupa, mentioned the unprecedented response could also be on account of the truth that its being held in Goa.
“One of the primary reasons we chose Goa is because it’s a tourist destination. We thought that since it’s the first time we’re having a WTT event in India, the players and fans should have something more to look forward to than just table tennis. Normally, it takes a year’s planning to host an event of such magnitude but we’ve done it in a short span of two months. That’s because we’ve received phenomenal support from the government, Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), and all the stakeholders,” Megha advised The Indian Express.
World No. 1 Fan Zhendong of China is the highest seed within the males’s occasion and can be challenged by World No. 4 Tomokazu Harimoto, the lone Japanese within the top-20 of the world rankings who has had some fabulous victories over his Chinese counterparts prior to now 12 months.
With Meng’s absence within the ladies’s singles, Chinese World No. 4 Wang Yidi will lead the cost, challenged by the Japanese duo of World No. 6 Hina Hayata and World No. 8 Kasumi Ishikawa.
The incontrovertible fact that the occasion has received so many high entries even baffled WTT organisers, who managed to place it into perspective.
“For sure, we don’t normally see this many top-20 entries for a Star Contender but we have the Singapore Smash next week, so players love the combination of first coming to Goa and then going to Singapore,” Bart Vermoesen, WTT’s occasion supervisor, advised The Indian Express on Tuesday.
‘TT in India has grown exponentially’
India’s top-ranked participant G Sathiyan has been a well-recognized face at high WTT tournaments over the previous couple of years. The World No. 41 and Manika Batra are the top-ranked Indians on the occasion.
Then there’s the evergreen Sharath Kamal. The 40-year-old eight-time Commonwealth Games medallist, ranked just a few notches under Sathiyan in world rankings, is understood to rise to the event. And what higher event than his nation internet hosting a premier match that boasts of huge names for the primary time because the 1987 World Championships held in New Delhi?
The males’s singles principal draw additionally options 18-year-old Payas Jain and 21-year-old Wesley Do Rosario as wildcards. National Games champion Harmeet Desai beat Argentinian Horacio Cifuentes 3-2 in Round 3 of qualifiers to make it to the principle draw.
The ladies’s singles principal draw has Manika, the highest-ranked Indian at 34, nationwide champion Sreeja Akula and 16-year-old Suhana Saini. Indian ladies did fabulously in qualifiers to dominate South Koreans to make their means into the principle draw. Yashaswini Ghorpade beat Kim Nayeong 3-2 whereas National Games champ Sutirtha Mukherjee dominated Lee Eunhye 3-1.
The males’s doubles principal draw will see Sharath and Sathiyan main the Indian problem together with Harmeet and Manav whereas Manika together with Archana Kamath can be seen in motion together with the duo of Sreeja and Diya.
India’s greatest probability is within the blended doubles occasion that may see Sathiyan and Manika pair up. The duo has been in glowing type of late, reaching the semifinals of the Doha Contender in January.
This occasion will definitely see probably the most variety of Indians at a WTT Contender occasion and Sathiyan can not cease beaming about it.
“To play on such a platform is a great beginning for Indian table tennis to go even more global. The country is becoming a powerhouse and these tournaments will help us surely. Table tennis in India has definitely grown exponentially in the past four-five years. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that it’s the most improved sport in that time period in India,” he mentioned.