National Ranking TT

Clean-slate beginning for WB,

NB paddlers

Chennai, August 13: It was a fresh day at office for some of the West and North Bengal players who, after serving a year-long ban, returned to action at the ongoing National Ranking (South Zone) Table Tennis Championships here at the Jawaharlal Nehru multi-purpose Indoor Stadium.

Three from West Bengal—Jeet Chandra, Ronit Bhanja and Anirban Ghosh—and two from North Bengal—Akash Nath and Subhajit Malakar—have put their past behind and performed well to qualify for the Junior Boys’ main draw today.

Similarly, three Junior Girls, Moumita Dutta (West Bengal), Puja Paul and Ankita Biswas (both North Bengal) have earned their berths and await the main draw, the matches of which will be played tomorrow morning.

All these boys and girls were slapped a one-year ban after a clean-up drive the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) had launched last season following complaints of age-fraud cases which the CBI’s Sports Integrity Cell investigated. Bases on its report, the TTFI had to discipline the
players for falsely represented their age.

On a day with action limited to qualification matches in both the junior and senior sections, two rounds were held in men’s singles while the women played just one round. They would return to the table tomorrow to complete the group matches.

However, in the junior section the group engagements are over and 32 boys and 40 girls have entered the main draw where they will be joined by the eight top-ranked players in each section.

With seven girls qualifying for the main draw from Tamil Nadu, they have overtaken the boys as only six of them have managed to make it to the second stage. The girls have yet again proved the point that they are not only one better upon the boys in academics, but also in sports.

The girl qualifiers include Abhinaya Ramesh, Yashini Sivashankar, Deepika Neelakandan, Knowishika Venkateshan, Harini Udayakumar, Kokila Sureshkumar and Mahima Jain while Sachin Viswanath.S, U. Gokul Uday Kumar, Jaishankar Rakesh, Ananth Devarajan, Sankaran Suraj and Malesh Vijaya Kumar have entered the second stage from the boys’ category.

As for the Junior Boys’ seeding is concerned, PSPBA’s Manav Thakkar, who has had a wonderful season last year, leads the points table and would be the No. 1 seed here. He will be followed by Siddhesh Pande of Maharashtra A, Lalhunhlua (PSPBA), Shubham Ambre (Mah-A), Anukram Jain (PSPBA)—he won the sub-junior singles title yesterday—Abhimanyu Mitra (WB), Shaurya Pendekar (Mah-A) and Ali Mohammad of Telangana.

In girls’ section, Shruti Amrute (Mah-A) will be the top seed while Tamil Nadu’s Selenadeepthi Selvakumar will be drawn in the second half as No. 2 seed. The other seeds that follow include Dena Bank’s Mansi Chiplunkar, Naina (Telangana), Ashlesha Trehan (Mah-A), Varuni Jaiswal (Telangana), Tanisi Kirtani (Goa) and Harshavardhini (TN).

The top-ranked eight men’s players, including reigning national champion Soumyajit Ghosh, Harmeet Desai, G. Sathiyan, to name a few, will be seen in action only from the day after as they are expected to get first-round byes. Similarly, the top eight women seeds too will been seen in action from the day after.

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