Event Section
PSPB monopoly to continue, pullouts to affect WB, NB teams


Alleppey, November 24: The Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), reigning champions in Junior Boys and Youth Boys sections, have yet again fielded their best teams to sound out a firm warning to the other teams in the 76th Junior and Youth National Table Tennis Championships, beginning here from tomorrow at Radha Convention Centre and SDV Centenary Auditorium.


One may scoff at PSPB’s monopoly theory, but no way can their thinking be faulted. However, the only way their domination could be challenged and settled is on the table by 30 other state teams that are in fray for the championships here.


But if at all a threat were to come, it could be only from teams like Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana who have players of calibre to give some headache to PSPB. Yet the latter’s talented arsenal, with the likes of juniors in Manav Thakkar, Lalrin Puia, Lalhunhlua and Anukram Jain, will surely prevail over. With Abhishek Yadav and Sudhanshu Grover joining the gang to combine in Youth Boys, their cup of joy will be full.



In fact, PSPB is such a strong outfit that can not only surmount any situation but also tackle defensive as well as offensive play. In other words, they leave very little room for others to raise their heads.


This year, PSPB could add the third silverware to their overflowing cupboard with a fresh threat coming from their Youth Girls team. Until last year, it was West Bengal or squads like North Bengal and Tamil Nadu which were dominating the scene. But with the experienced Manika Batra and Reeth Rishya joining the enthusiastic Senhora D’Souza and Archana Kamath, the ordeal for others is complete.


Lone scope


If there is any scope and hope for the rest of the teams, it is only in Junior Girls championship as PSPB is not competing in the category. But the battle for this title could be from among West Bengal, North Bengal, Telengana and Tamil Nadu besides hosts Kerala. In this battle royal, both West Bengal and North Bengal may suffer due to some last-minute withdrawals by their state associations.


For instance, North Bengal will be sending only two players while West Bengal just three. West Bengal, incidentally, are the holders of Junior Girls crown and North Bengal finished runners-up at the Guwahati nationals last year. Sending a depleted team by these states has raised the stakes for both Tamil Nadu and Telengana but Maharashtra’s A team, comprising Shruti Amrute, Payal Bohra, Ashlesha Trehan and Rutuja Khopkar, looks to be the most favourite.


Tamil Nadu has Harshavardhini, Yashini, Selenadeepthi and Abhinaya but consistency is Maharashtra’s forte. Even Telengana’s Naina Jaiswal, Sreeja Akula, Varuni Jaiswal and V. Laasya could intimidate on their day. Delhi, who were fifth last year, become a strong contender for the title with Riti Shankar, Kritika Malik, Srishti and Vanshika Sachar breathing down their neck.


Kerala’s Hope


As for hosts Kerala, they will largely depend on the Sereha Jacob and Maria Rony with adequate support from Gia Anna George and Renuka Aswani. Sereha had a very good chance of becoming the West Zone champion this year but missed the bus after leading 3-1 in the final against Maharashtra’s Payal Bohra. After Gandhidham, she was No. 2 on the ranking list but has now come down to seventh position and is separated by just five points from team mate Maria Rony who just at No. 8.


All but Junior Girls singles qualification matches will start tomorrow evening itself as the Indian team for the World Junior Championships, to be held at Shanghai from November 30 to December 7, is slated to leave from New Delhi onNovember 28. The other singles matches will begin from the third day.


The championships, with Ganeshan Neelakanta Iyer as competition manager, will use Stage flooring and Nittaku white balls. A.S, Kler from Delhi will be the chief referee and he will be supported by deputies Anil Dubey, T.G. Upadhyaya and C.L. Thade.