Pune, October 5: The rewards given to players for their commitment in domestic championships in the shape of seeding can be, at times, a big embarrassment for many, especially the top-ranked players in the world.
But A. Sharath Kamal, the top-ranked Indian in the world at No. 31, does not think so. He was of the opinion that players needed to be motivated and rewarded for regularly participating in domestic events. “I endorse the domestic points system because it gives a level-playing field to up-and-coming youngsters and they need to be encouraged,” said Sharath.
But when asked if he felt hurt about the lower seeding in the tournament here, he added: “Yes, you could say that. But I have to take it with a pinch of salt.”
Sharath, who skipped a few national ranking events this year, is seeded No. 13 for the ongoing 11Sports National Ranking (West Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the Mhalunge-Balewadi Sports Complex here.
The top slot has gone to Anthony Amalraj, who is behind leader Manav Thakkar, in men singles chart at 325 points, which are the cumulative total of seven events—last two from previous season, four prior to the current one and this year’s Institutional championships. In the absence of Manav, who away in Buenos Aires for the Youth Olympics, the benefit has been passed on to Amalraj.
In comparison, a dozen players with regular participation in the domestic circuit have accumulated more ranking points and feel happy to be ahead of Sharath for most of them. In fact, some junior players did admit that Sharath had been a role model for them and that they drew inspiration from him.
Asked on his views about the ‘carrot and stick’ policy of TTFI, the 36-year-old Sharath said he felt fine with it. “Yes, it gives a cushion to the organizers’ thinking of drawing top players to their tournaments. But we (players) have to keep our world rankings intact and that is possible with maximum participation in pro-tours. It would help us if TTFI can provide us with its annual planning (international participation) so that we can decide which of the domestic events we should play as per TTFI’s new policy,” he said.
Talking on the sidelines of a felicitation function organized by Sudesh Shelar Memorial Foundation, Sharath also applauded the efforts of TTFI, SAI and the Sports Ministry and the support Team India got from millions of followers. “It has been a fantastic year for Indian table tennis and the credit must go to all those who planned it so nicely,” he added.
The foundation, which honoured the players, presented a plaque and cash awards to the eight players participating here—Sharath, A. Amalraj, Harmeet Desai, Sanil Shetty, Manika Batra, Madhurika Patkar, Pooja Sahasrabudhe and Sutirtha Mukherjee—during the formal inauguration.
On the opening day of the West Zone championships, the paddlers in women and men singles are scheduled to play two rounds of qualification matches each.
Men 16 seeds: A. Amalraj, Sudhanshu Grover, Sanil Shetty, Arjun Ghosh, Harmeet Desai, Manush Shah, Sushmit Sriram, Siddesh Pande, Jubin Kumar, Anirban Ghosh, SFR Snehit, Bhanja Ronit, Sharath Kamal, Sougata Sarkar, Jeet Chandra and Abhishek Yadav.
Women 8 seeds Sutirtha Mukherjee, Manika Batra, Madhurika Patkar, Pooja Sahasrabudhe, Sagarika Mukherjee, Prapti Sen, Ayhika Mukherjee and Divya Deshpande.
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