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Largest byes in South Zone Junior events

Chennai, August 12: Sixteen byes in the Sub-Junior Boys section and 24 in the Girls category are the real indicator of the number of playersparticipating in the ongoing National Ranking (South Zone) Table Tennis Championships here at the Jawaharlal Nehru multi-purpose Indoor Stadium. This is by far the largest in a season in recent times.

With 40 boys and 32 girls qualifying from as many groups, the Stage II of the event has turned out to be draw of 64 in the two sections. This means, apart from the normal top eight players who only get byes, the benefit has been extended to the top 16 in both categories. In other words, these 16 players in the boys section and 24 in the girls category don’t make appearance until the second round.

Meanwhile, Manush Shah from Gujarat is the top-seeded player here in the Sub-Junior Boys section, Maharashtra A’s Ashwin Subramanian is behind him at second place. They are followed by the two Petroleum Sports Promotion Board Academy’s boys—Anukram Jain and Raegan Albuquerque—at No. 3 and 4.

There was hardly anything separating from these top four last year as their performances suggest. However, they cannot gloat over last year’s rankings or the seeding offered here except enjoying the byes they have received for they have to prove themselves yet again in a new season.

The good news for Tamil Nadu is that six of their boys have made it to the main draw along with West Bengal while the next best efforts have come from Maharashtra, North Bengal and Telangana as four boys from each state have reached the second stage of the tournament.

The qualifiers from Tamil Nadu include Shriram Kannan, Sankket Mahipal, Sathyanarayaa Murali, Karthikeyan Solaiyan, Karan Jawahar and Aditya Srinivasan. The onus will be on these players to carry Tamil Nadu to the victory podium.

The interesting thing about North and West Bengal is that their boys, after spending a quiet year last season because of some suspensions, are ready for the challenge once again. West Bengal has returned six boys in the main draw—Akash Pal, Soumyodip Ghosh, Abir Roy, Snehasish Paul, Rohan Ghosh and Riswav Dey—and Rohan Ghosh is the best bet for the state and is expected to go the full distance.

But these two states cannot take things for granted as there seems to be a good competition coming from players of Karnataka, Maharashtra and, not to forget, Telangana.

As for the Junior Girls, Tamil Nadu can be proud of the fact that seven of them have qualified to make Stage II grade. They are Sharmitha Srinivasan, Kavyasree Baskar, T.R. Shruthi, Yazhini Madhurakavi, Yogashree Mohana Sundaram, Maria Ancy John and Esther Agnes Johndurai. But their job will be easy in the first round of the main draw as opponents from states like Maharashtra A and B, Telangana, North Bengal and West Bengal will be difficult to contend with.

The qualifiers in these Junior sections will play their first round matches of the main draw later tonight.

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