Event Section
Manav-led PSPB start favourites for Youth crown


Sonepat, December 24: The mere presence of Manav Thakkar should more than reassure PSPB as the favourite team to lift the trophy in the 11Sports 80th Junior and Youth National Table Tennis Championships which begins here at the DPS Hall from tomorrow.


But Manav alone is not the reason for PSPB getting the tag as Jeet Chandra, Parth Virmani and Siddesh Pandey are in fine form to play their role to see the top-seeded squad reach the top-of-podium finish. Manav had helped the team win both Junior and Youth titles in the last edition at Durgapur, besides helping himself with three individual crowns.


Unfortunately, however, he is eligible to compete only in the Youth section this year and that would hamper PSPB in the Junior Boys with a new set of players, led by Anukram Jain, Sameer Pandey, Satyamgiri Gupta and Aditya Jain.


The PSPB’s Youth Girls squad will sorely miss the services of Archana Girish Kamath, who had to pull out at the last minute because of a leg niggle. Though she has begun her workouts slowly, doctors have advised her not to put too much strain. That leaves the job taking the team to the medal round entirely on Prapti Sen, Yashini Sivashankar and Srushti Halaengadi.


Incidentally, Archana won the singles titles in both sections last year and had helped PSPB win the team titles in the Institutional championships as well.


PSPB girls will face tough challenge from West Bengal which has in its ranks Surbhi Patwari, Poymontee Baisya and Kaushani Nath, the experienced lot, with additional support from Premangi Ghosh.


Team events apart, the actual battle among paddlers in each section will come when the singles events begin with a lot at stake, in terms of prize money as well as ranking points, for the individuals, especially those in the 18-21 age groups.


Competition manager N. Ganeshan said teams have been divided into eight groups for the round-robin league first stages with each group throwing up two qualifiers who will go onto play the main draw of the championships, to be played on a knockout basis. ‘’As for singles, the events will begin from Day 4 with nearly 900 players divided into groups of three and four for the first stages. One qualifier from each group will go on to play the knockout stage matches where they will be joined by eight top-ranked players, who will be given the seeding,’’ he said.


Matches will be played on 20 tables with Stag supplying all equipment—tables, balls and flooring. The six-day championships will be supervised by 50 technical officials, led by referee Anil Dubey. He will be assisted by deputy referees A.S. Kler, A. Satheese and Anuradha Bansal with S. Sridhar as the FOP in charge. And the event is conducted by the Haryana Table Tennis Association.