Event Section
Sathiyan withdraws, 4 Covid positive players return home


Indore, January 3: Neither the players nor the organisers would have bargained for a stop-start beginning to the UTT National Ranking (Central Zone) Table Tennis Championships, arguably the last for the season, on Monday. The enthusiasm and high hopes of players last evening somewhat waned when the players came to know about the mandatory Covid-19 Antigen tests this morning. Probably, the surge in Covid cases, especially the fast-spreading Omicron, across India has necessitated such precautionary steps.


It proved a blessing in disguise for several players as, of the 350 Antigen tests conducted at the last count, as many as 14 cases turned positive—four players confirming after RT-PCR tests. A few more joining the list of confirmed cases are not ruled out, even as the organisers are keeping their fingers crossed.


However, the show will go on. Competition Manager N. Ganeshan confirmed it when he said: “We will not allow the four players and any other that tests positive after RT-PCR tests. Unfortunately, they cannot participate, but we will go ahead with the championships because we have to think about the other players who are here.”


“The same system will continue in other categories as well for this tournament and the subsequent Cader & Sub-Junior Nationals that begins soon after,” he added.


But even before news of positive tests results came in, top-seed G. Sathiyan slated to play his first National Ranking championships pulled out this morning, citing high temperature and body pain dealing a big blow. Sathiyan’s withdrawal also forced the redrawing of the seedings to fill the 16th spot.


Two other withdrawals in the women’s singles followed when Ankita Das, who arrived here last evening but left for home this afternoon to attend to her unwell mother, and Divya Deshpande because of an injury.


In the newly-drawn seeding, Sanil Shetty got the pride of place with Manav Thakkar following him at No. 2. Jeet Chandra of Airports Authority of India made it to the top 16 following the vacancy created by Sathiyan. However, the women’s singles seeding will remain the same as drawn yesterday as none among them is a positive case.


The men and women qualification matches got underway, albeit with some delay, because of the compulsory Antigen tests. The main draw in both sections will take place tomorrow after the Youth Under-19 players start their campaign.


The Seedings:


Men: Sanil Shetty, Manav Thakkar (both PSPB), Harmeet Desai, Manush Shah (both Guj), Anthony Amalraj (PSPB), Anirban Ghosh (RSPB), SFR Snehit (Telg), Soumyajit Ghosh (Har), Ronit Bhanja, Jeet Chandra (both AAI), Shubh Goel (Del), Arjun Ghosh (RSPB), Deepit Patil (Mah), Abhishek Yadav (UP), Sudhanshu Grover, Payas Jain (both Del).


Women: Akula Sreeja (RBI), Reeth Rishya (PSPB), Prapti Sen, Takeme Sarkar (both RSPB), Diya Chitale (Mah), Swastika Ghosh (AAI), Sutirtha Mukherjee (RSPB), Anusha Kutumbale (MP).