Date: 11th to 16th August, 2015
Venue: Multi Purpose Indoor Stadium,next to Jawaharlal Nehru Atheletic Stadium, Behind Central
Railway Station, Periamet, Chennai 600003.
South Zone TT entries touch 1600-mark! Chennai, August 11: The new season having kicked off with the Inter-Institutional Championships at New Delhi a couple of weeks ago, the table tennis caravan has now moved from north to down south for the National Ranking (South Zone) Table Tennis Championships, beginning here at the Jawaharlal Nehru multi-purpose Indoor Stadium from tomorrow. Normally, a zonal event attracts about 550-600 players but this time the South Zone championships seem to have turned a new leaf. An unprecedented 1,610 entries from over 850 paddlers in different categories—Cadet, Sub-Junior, Junior, Youth and Senior—prove this point. Similarly, the importance of a zonal event is also not lost on those players who belong to the top echelons. And this is what makes the first zonal event, to be held between August 11 and 16, a mega blockbuster in terms of both quantity and quality. One could see a spring or two in the steps of the organizers—Chennai District Table Tennis Association—who are hosting an event of this size for the first time, though Tamil Nadu had hosted the South Zone championships a long time before. Ranking points in these types of championships are vital to every player’s progress as they become the basis for selection into the national camps as well as the Indian squads. A season well begun can be profitable to the paddlers as they gain from strength to strength when they look ahead at the season lying ahead keeping in mind the ranking points awarded. With top players of the county, sans Achanta Sharath Kamal, will be vying with one another to reach the podium. Though it is a bit encouraging for the other participants, Sharath’s absence—he is yet to completely recover from the hip injury he suffered during the World Championships in China this April—will be felt both by the organizers and his hometown fans. The good news, however, is that the ace Indian, who achieved his career-best ranking of 32—he jumped eight places from No. 44 at Suzhou—has already begun his physical workouts in Germany and would take some more time before jumping into real-time action. Nevertheless, one top player’s nonappearance gives that much opportunity to the rest in fray, including the reigning and former national champions. It is up to the players to utilize it to their benefit and create an opening for them and aim for the 10 gold medals on offer across five categories. For the top paddlers, competing in the senior class, there is an additional bonus of getting a look-in by the national selectors and making it to the Indian men and women’s squads for the Asian Championships, to be held at Pattaya (Thailand) in September. This is what will weigh each and every player that pays his first visit to the table tomorrow morning. Additionally, they have a total prize purse of Rs. 5.76 lakh to target at. The local flavor is taken care of by contenders like G.Sathiyan, Anthony Amalraj, Sushmit Sriram, R. Abhishek and E. Prabhakaran, to name a few in the men’s section, and K. Shamini, Vidhya, Amrutha Pushpak and Reeth Rishya in the women’s category. Apart from them, there will be a whole lot of up-and-coming juniors like C.R. Harshavardini, Selena Deepthi Selvakumar, Abhinaya Ramesh and Yashini. The event will begin with Stage 1 matches in the Cadet section with the boys and girls finals slated for Wednesday evening. The junior finals will be on the fifth day of the championships while the last day will witness finals in the Youth and Senior sections. Organizing secretary J.Selvakumar wants to make it a memorable event and he believes this would be possible because of an enthusiastic bunch of former players. “Fortunately, we have a good team of people, including former players, lending a helping hand. I am really grateful to both the Table Tennis Federation of India and the Tamil Nadu Table Tennis Association for reposing the faith in Chennai DTTA and allotting us the championships,” said the former national player. The championships will be conducted under the supervision of ITTF’s Competition Manager, Ganeshan Neelakanta Iyer who will be assisted by chief referee T.G. Upadhyay, deputy referees M.J.S. Dileep Kumar and A. Satheeshe. They will have the services of 40 Blue Badge, International and national umpires. All equipment—flooring, tables and plastic balls—used will be from Stag.