Manav, Ananth and Archana make World Juniors cut
Indore, September 25: Manav Thakkar, Ananth Devarajan and Archana Kamath maintaining impressive track records, with sustained world rankings obtained through participation in global junior circuit events abroad, have made it to the singles events of the World Junior Championships to be held at Cape Town in South Africa in November-December later this year.
All the players made the ITTF cut based on their September world ranking with Manav at No 40 and Ananth at 43. Archana is ranked No. 49, thanks to her triple-crown performance in Morocco Open at Agadir in July.
Though our teams performed below expectations at the Bangkok Asian Juniors, the Junior Boys and Junior Girls had done reasonably well to enter the quarterfinals with a good chance of reaching the medal round. But, unfortunately, it was not to be.
But from among the junior team members both Manav Thakkar and Ananth Devarajan have qualified while none of the girls that went to Bangkok came anywhere close to consideration. However, it was Archana who was selected by the ITTF—she was overlooked by selectors when the squad for the Asian event was picked—based on her own strength and rankings.
The three players got the right to participate in the World Juniors after meeting the criteria established for the individual events, being among the best 14 players from September 2016 world rankings.
Despite our Boys team’s misfortune at the Asian Juniors, an Indian squad can still make the grade as it has been put on the waitlist as a second reserve behind Chinese Taipei. Of the five teams have that made it to the Cape Town championships through qualification in the continental event at Bangkok there is a possibility of DPR Korea not sending its team to South Africa for political reasons, as it did last year.
This really throws open the door for Taipei. But India could be next in line if and when there is a pullout from another team, even if it is from a different continent. As per regulations, ITTF fills such slots with other reserve teams in order to make the minimum number of squads at the World Juniors. It also means that the TTFI can make up a team from among the players who have already got in owing to their rankings or, alternatively, have a new set of payers as a team. The members, thus selected, can also compete in singles.
Apart from the continental slot, the boys’ team can also make the grade through world rankings, said Dhanraj Choudhary, Secretary General of TTFI. “Our boys’ team rankings are better and it can qualify even otherwise,” he said. “It is a good opportunity for the Indians to showcase their talent in championships like these,” he added.
Talking on future preparations, the secretary-general said that TTFI has plans afoot for investing heavily on youngsters keeping in mind the 2024 and 2028 Olympics. “We have high hopes on players like these. They are our future hopes. Look at Fan Zhendong, the title winner at Hyderabad World Juniors four years ago. Today, the Chinese is a force to reckon with and the proof of it came when he beat reigning Olympic champion Ma Long in China Open,” said Choudhary, to reiterate the point that why TTFI was keen on youngsters’ performance.