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2018-Games On!




Before I begin reflecting on the year that went by, let me express my good wishes to all players, the pillars of our strength, without whose existence TTFI would not have survived. If they played their role, year after year, to help the Federation grow in stature, there were also officials that facilitated it. The roles of the Sports Authority of India, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs—who contributed immensely to help shape many a career—were equally important. We also owe it to our state affiliates, the sponsors, technical officials and the media that stood by through our thick and thin. All of them deserve our gratitude.


Now let’s hope the year 2018, in which our paddlers will participate in two major Games—CWG and Asian Games—will prove to be fruitful. Our entire focus, to begin with, will be on CWG where we have, traditionally, been winning medals. Once we achieve our targets at Gold Coast in Australia, we can carry forward the momentum into Asian Games that follow a few months later in Jakarta, Indonesia.


The preparations have already begun and plans submitted by players have, more or less, been approved by SAI, thanks to TOPS, for the World Tour and Platinum events in Hungary, Qatar, Poland and Germany. The intensity of training will only increase as the days go by with our creamy layer training and participating in India and abroad under the scheme, apart from competing in the senior nationals at Ranchi in January2018.

Sathiyan, Manika excel


We tend to gauge success by the number of medals our paddlers win round the year. That way, 2017 was as good as any previous year’s collection. If I have to choose any one best performance by our team, I would rate the defeat handed out to DPR Korea in the Asian Championships in April, a first such occurrence. It set the tone for the season as individuals did well throughout, with some exceptional performances.


Among the men paddlers, G. Sathiyan capped the year with a fantastic title win in the Spanish Open, an IITF Challenge event for the second year in succession to become the first Indian to achieve a rare feat. Last year, he had won the Belgium Open crown.  Sathiyan, who entered the quarterfinals of men singles in Thailand Open in April 2017, ended the season with a gold medal in the Spanish Open. Sathiyan had also won a bronze in men’s double in Swedish Open world tour in the company of A. Sharath Kamal.


And there was a double gold-winning display by Soumyajit Ghosh in Chile Open—he beat compatriot Anthony Amalraj in singles final and then combined with him to win doubles gold! Amalraj was twice finalist in Chile Open as well as in Brazil Open but had to satisfy himself with silver medals on both occasions. However, Amalraj—he was a quarterfinalist in Thailand Open— emerged as the most successful player on the domestic circuit winning three national ranking titles. And the best moment for him came this year was when he won the Arjuna Award in August.


Similarly, Manika Batra and Mouma who tasted reasonable success in world championships at Dusseldorf ended the season by winning silver in Spanish Open, missing gold by a whisker to the top-seeded Korean pair of Jihee Jeon and Haeun Yang. Another first for any Indian pair! Incidentally, for the first time, the Indian pair had reached the round of 16 in Dusseldorf while Sharath reached the round of 32 for the third time in succession.


Manika was exceptional when it came to her participation in Asian Cup at Ahmedabad. There was a lot of hope on Sharath, who was among the top 12, but Harmeet Desai and Manika, figuring among the 16, had done reasonably well in the face of a tough competition with Manika passing the muster. Ayhika Mukherjee was another paddler who reached the quarterfinals in Thailand while most other women singles players failed to make an impression.


Rare achievements


Year 2017 also saw four men paddlers reaching top-100 in the world while Manika was the lone exception to be among the top 100 in women singles. Likewise, the men team was ranked No. 12 in the world from 226 ITTF-affiliated countries—yet again, a rarity for Indian table tennis.


Among junior paddlers, Manav Thakkar’s rise has been envious. He is currently ranked world No. 18 and Archana Kamath at No. 34, her consistency somewhat getting dented. For the first time in World Junior Circuit, Manav captured the No. 1 position in world standings while Selenadeepthi Selvakumar was placed at No. 3. No Indian junior has done this before! The juniors also did exceedingly well in Bulgaria winning a team silver medal and three bronze medals. In fact, the juniors have been performing well and are raising the bar all the time to challenge seniors in domestic circuit events.


The likes of Arjun Ghosh, SFR Snehit, Ronit Bhanja and Manush Shah have been striving hard to be consistent. Among girls, Yashini Sivashnakar and Prapti Sen have emerged as good future crops and, if nurtured, can go places. The sub-junior and Cadet Boys and Girls, too, are good with new faces emerging in every tournament. Diya Chitale, who skipped most of domestic events, came back in nick of time to help Maharashtra win Sub-Junior title besides retaining her singles crown. The state won three titles with youngsters like Diya, Dev Shroff and Pritha Vartikar being the fulcrum. Tamil Nadu, which had won three gold medals last year, had to be content with the Cadet Boys crown, thanks to Preyesh Raj, the most consistent player in his age group. His singles win was the crowning glory for the Tamil Nadu boy. West Bengal, unfortunately, had to end with three silver medals despite reaching the finals. But, overall, the growth is good and a pointer to the graph of competition showing an upward trend.


On organisation part, TTFI conducted four international events in 2017—India Open Pro Tour, Asia Cup, WJC India Open and Youth Olympics Qualifications (Asian Continent). TTFI’s endeavour of planning and organising national camps, a regular feature, continues unabated to prepare paddlers in all categories. TTFI has also been running parallel coaching programmes for states so that players that cannot make it to the national camps can benefit. Over and above, coaches (Level 1-3), referees clinics to improve the standard of coaching and officiating in matches with the help of funding from Sports and HRD Ministries, has seen a spurt.


Importance of India


The importance of Indian officials’ representation in global bodies is not a recent phenomenon. But over the years, it has seen a regular surge with our officials getting positions of significance. In that sense, TTFI can boast of having its president, Dushyant Chautala, as president of Commonwealth Games Federation, South Asian Table Tennis Federation and, recently, elected as an Executive Council member of the Indian Olympic Association.


Yours truly was elected as vice-president of SATTF during the world championships at a meeting in Dusseldorf while my predecessor, Dhanraj Choduhary, was chosen as advisor. In addition, he is also holding positions as a member of the Board of Directors with ITTF and treasurer of the Asian Table Tennis Union. Incidentally, he is also serving TTFI as an advisor and guiding us. Ganeshan Neelakanta Iyer, who was elected as chairman of the Technical Committee of SATTF, was recently elevated as a member of the URC (Umpires and Referees Committee) in ITTF. 


With TTFI’s continuous efforts to encourage new faces, the federation has been helping groom Blue Badge umpires, giving them opportunities. As a result, we have a new face in Mangesh Mopkar, who became an international referee this season, adding to India’s growing strength of technical officials. Our programme of infusing new blood into the system with new referees, too, has been successful with younger people getting opportunities.


After the success of online entry system—fully tried and tested—for TTFI conducted events, we are introducing it for the first time in Veterans Nationals to be held in Jaipur in February. This would, we hope, solve many a problem faced with entries for the Veterans events and evolve a system for the future.


With 2018 just a few days away, TTFI has its tasks cut out; so is the job of our paddlers on whom the entire country reposes its faith. When I say TTFI’s tasks, I also mean my own. Let’s work together to achieve our goal.


I would be completing a year in office coming January and I look forward to better and brighter things in the future. Let’s enjoy year-end holidays and start dreaming and planning for a more successful 2018.


M.P. Singh

Secretary General