Fag-end event gives Mizoram a new beginning
Aizawl, November 13: The limited participation, numbering just about 500 players, could only be the discordant effect on a fag-end tournament, but the 11Even Sports National Ranking (East Zone) Table Tennis Championships, starting at the R Dengthuama Multipurpose Indoor Stadium at Mualpui here tomorrow, have other positives to look at, especially for the paddlers who are desperately in need of valuable points.
At the end of this event, the participants will know where they stand in hierarchy and whether or not they can make it to the state squads for the forthcoming nationals which follow immediately. Hence, every player worth his salt would want to put up one last big effort here to make the cut. In that sense, this last national ranking championship is equally important for them as they are for the organizers, who are conducting an event of this stature after 25 years.
All these have taken the level of enthusiasm to a new height with organizers doing everything possible to accommodate players with limited number of hotels and transport being the major problems here. In addition, this will be the first major championships that the new stadium will conduct and the hosts are turning things upside down to make everybody’s stay comfortable.
But unfortunately, the locals will not be witness to some of the biggies in table tennis, especially in the men’s singles which, along with women’s singles, will mark the beginning of the six-day event. The South Zone champion Sharath Kamal, West Zone winner G. Sathiyan or, for that matter, Harmeet Desai, the winner at Central Zone, Soumyajit Ghosh and Jubin Kumar have given a goby but Anthony Amalraj, the reigning national champion, will make his presence felt. In fact, he looks to be the favourite for the title and is all set to log maximum points having missed the last three championships. If at all any resistance for him, it could come from southpaw Sanil Shetty and Devesh Karia, who had finished a runner-up at Rajkot.
Fortunately, however, all but one top player in the women’s singles will be competing here as national champion Manika Batra has chosen to stay away because of her participation in a tournament abroad. Suthirtha, already with enough silverware this season, Madhurika Patkar, Pooja Sahasrabudde, Mouma Das and K. Shamini along with Poulomi Ghatak should make the women’s affair very interesting for the keen followers of the sport.
Again, most of the future India players—Manav Thakkar, Ananth Devarajan, Ronit Bhanja and Birdie Boro in Youth and Junior Boys sections and Archana Kamath, Anusha Kutumbale, Varuni Jaiswal, Moumita Datta and Prapti Sen—will be fighting it hard against each other to retain their top perch in the ranking list.
In the Sub-Junior and Cadet sections, the boys and girls get their last chance before the Siliguri nationals starting on December 1. Foreign Coach Costantini Massimo has certain plans up his sleeve and the players must show their competence here and at Siliguri to be counted in his scheme of things. Understandably, there is a huge participation from the hosts’ side—about 40 of them will compete here with Manipur and Assam coming close second and third from the northeast.
Meanwhile, Competition Manager Ganeshan Neelakanta Iyer said that A.S. Kler has been nominated as the chief referee for the competitions here with assistance coming from a team 40 technical officials that include a deputy and Blue Badge, International and National umpires, mostly from eastern region.
Equipment from Stag—synthetic flooring, tables and balls—will be used for the championships which will be inaugurated by state Finance Minister Lalsawta at 12 noon.