Indore (Madhya Pradesh): It was another day in the office for the competition department of the Table Tennis Federation of India and the officials of the Madhya Pradesh Table Tennis Association who got themselves ready to receive the next set of players, at the Abhay Prashal from March 3. .
After the first four days of action in the girls’ events, the time has come for the boys to take centerstage in the UTT 82nd Cadet & Sub-Junior National Table Tennis Championships. The boys in the two categories—Cadet and Sub-Junior— with their coaches and managers began queuing up since morning as the process for COVID-19 check got underway.
The antigen tests and negative results eliminated the fear factor, if any, among the girl participants. It also created a feeling of buzz among the small kids, encouraging them to stay in the biosecurity zone and concentrate on the job at hand. It will be no different for boys who begin their title chase in the two events.
The events, coming as they do after more than a year, will do a world of good to the contestants representing 34 states and the PSPB Academy. There are 144 boys, including 16 wildcard entrants, in the Sub-Junior category and 126 in the Cadet section.
Preyesh Raj Suresh, who lost in the semi-finals at the last Nationals held in Dharamsala, would desperately want to make amends here. PB Abhinand, who won the Cadet Boys crown in 2019, could be a hot contender and may well be seen squaring up with his Tamil Nadu teammate. But players from states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Bengal, and PSPBA could pose stiff challenges to their aspirations.Yet, the left-hander from Tamil Nadu is the favourite to claim the Sub-Junior Boys’ title. His service variations and clever adaptation would come in handy. He participated in the men’s singles at Panchkula and entered the round of 32. All of these point to how the dice is loaded heavily against his opponents. Without a doubt, he is far ahead of the rest in the fray.
Aadarsh Om Chetri, the winner of the last Nationals title, has moved on to the next category and it is a picture-perfect scenario for Preyesh.A plethora of fresh faces in the Cadet Boys offers a big bonus for the sport. Hence, hazarding a guess on the likely winner is strictly prohibited. Again, strict COVID-free paraphernalia will be in place, with 12 STAG tables and balls in use. Competition Manager N. Ganeshan and chief referee Mangesh Mopkar will continue overseeing the conduct of matches