Table tennis will be the first discipline to get off the blocks in the 36th National Games at the Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay Indoor Stadium in Surat on Tuesday with the official inauguration of the Games happening in Ahmedabad a week later on September 27.
The dates had to be advanced as the World table tennis championships begin in Chengdu (China) on Sept. 30 and the Indian paddlers who are part of the National team have to leave the country on Sept. 25/26.
As far as the Games competition goes, Gujarat men and Maharashtra women will be the favourites to win the titles.
In its ranks, the host has Harmeet Desai, Manush Shah and Manav Thakkar, who are (domestic) ranked No. 3, 4 & 5 in the country, and will be expected to bag the gold.
The team has had a 10-day camp at the Tapti Valley International School here. “We are excited to represent Gujarat in our home state, and this is the first time we are all (referring to Manush & Manav) playing together in the Games. We have to play well to justify our top seeding,” said Harmeet, who was part of the Indian team that won the Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham recently.
The Maharashtra women’s team appear quite strong with Reeth Rishya, Swastika Ghosh, Diya Chitale, Anannya Basak and Shruti Amrute. Bengal will challenge Maharashtra as it has the veteran and five-time National champion Mouma Das, Ayhika Mukherjee, Prapti Sen, Suthirtha Mukherjee, and Takeme Sarkar. Incidentally, Mouma was also a member of the Bengal team when it won silver in 2015, the last time the Games was held in Kerala.
The top eight teams from the last Shillong National championships in Shillong will be eligible to part in the National Games. India’s top stars including A. Sharath Kamal, G. Sathiyan and Manika Batra are expected to arrive in the city in a day or two to compete in the individual events.
Men: Group A: Gujarat, Delhi, Haryana, Telangana; B: Maharashtra, West Bengal, UP, Karnataka.
Women: Group A: Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat & Haryana; B: West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu & UP.
Asian junior championship
Lakshmi Prabha ousted eighth seed Lily Fairclough of Australia 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the girls first round of the Asian junior tennis championship at the Deccan Gymkhana Club courts on Monday.
In the boys section, Manas Dhamne got off to a good start beating Iliyas Maratuly of Kazakhstan 6-3, 7-6(4). Rethin Pranav, Yuvan Nandal, Daksh Prasad, Kriish Tyagi and Denim Yadav were some of the other Indians who made the second round.
The results (first round)
Boys: Hayden Jones (Aus) bt Siddharth Marathe 6-2, 6-4; Takamasa Mishiro (Jpn) bt Prajwal Tewari 6-3, 6-4; Rethin Pranav bt Siwanat Auytayakul (Tha) 6-3, 6-4; Manas Dhamne bt Iliyas Maratuly (Kaz) 6-3, 7-6(4); Yuvan Nandal bt Poonthong Komopisut (Tha) 6-4, 5-7, 6-3; Bushan Haobam bt Vitaliy Zatsepin (Kaz) 6-3, 6-3; Daksh Prasad bt Luke koh (Sgp) 6-1, 6-2; Reiya Hattori (Jpn) bt Aryan Lakshmanan 6-3, 6-4; Kriish Tyagi bt Shingo Masuda (Jpn) 6-3, 6-3; Denim Yadav bt Yerassyl Yerdilda (Kaz) 3-6, 6-1, 6-0; Woohyukuk Chang (Kor) bt Satoru Nakajima (Jpn) 6-0, 3-6, 6-4; Jeremy Zhang (Aus) bt Rushil Khosla 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4.
Girls: Yu-Yun Li (Tpe) bt Asmi Adkar 6-1, 6-3; Sue Yan Tan (Sgp) bt Nandini Dixit 6-2, 6-0; Vaishnavi Adkar bt Vladislava Andreevskaya (Kgz) 6-1, 6-3; Shiho Tsujioka (Jpn) bt Madhurima Sawant 6-0, 6-2; Lakshmi Prabha bt Lily Fairclough (Aus) 5 7, 6-4, 6-4.