An informal meeting before the start of table tennis championship
An informal meeting before the start of table tennis championship

Indore (Madhya Pradesh): SFR Snehit, title-defender in youth boys and Payas Jain, junior champion, are all set to take part in 82nd Junior and Youth National Table Tennis Championships at Abhay Prashal here.

The two players are in match-fit conditions as they participated in the Senior Nationals at Panchkula. Both were in the main draw and Snehit reached the semi-finals. The 20-year-old Telangana boy even drew praises for the way he defeated defending champion Harmeet Desai. He did everything right until the semi-finals before going down to the eventual winner, G Sathiyan.

Naturally, his morale is on a high from the Senior Nationals. More than that, he got the additional booster shot in the form of a berth in the University Games, to be held in China this August.

The Osmania University student, who is doing his mass communications, has everything in place for him. What goes in his favour is his improved game, upped confidence, and his fitness. He has also added power and visits the mental trainer regularly. All of these make him a favourite for the crown.

Nevertheless, the path to the final is not going to be all that rosy. Over half a dozen players, including Shreyaans Goel, who finished a runner-up at Jammu, are the stumbling blocks to his title-chase. Jeet Chandra, the top-ranked player, the tough Manush Shah, Parth Virmani, Deepit Rajesh Patil, to name a few, will fancy their chances.

Snehit’s statemate Mohammad Ali—he also qualified for the Varsity Games—to Vishwa Deenadayalan, who broke into the top-16 in ranking after a draw of lots, will be gunning for the top podium finish. Only the top eight ranked players have a breather. The rest of the 136 paddlers will play qualification matches, divided into 40 groups.

Payas has a task cut out

Payas Jain does have a distinct advantage over many of his rivals. He had the best training facilities at his disposal at the Table Tennis Foundation Academy. His fitness training has been impeccable, the support system even better. However, he cannot take things for granted and will have to face challenges from contenders Yashansh Malik, Vishwa Deenadayalan—the top-ranked player—H. Jeho, Hrishikesh Malhotra, Jayabrata Bhattacharjee, and of course, Preyesh Raj. The last-named won the sub-junior crown and would be raring to have a shot at the Junior title as well. More than these players, the Junior section is also known to throw up floaters who can spoil the show of even the biggest in business.

There is also a similarity to the number of entries in the Junior Boys. Like in the Youth section, the top eight players will sit out until the main draw, while the rest play the 40 group matches.

True to his word, competition Manager N. Ganeshan and chief referee Mangesh Mopkar have laid out a schedule that is neither passive nor taxing. Twelve Stag America’s tables have been laid out for the show, and the Stag Supreme balls will be in use during the championships. The chief referee will have support from about 50 Blue Badge and international umpires.The girls’ events follow the boys after five days.

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