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West Zone TT Nationals to miss stars



Rajkot, Oct 12: The West Zone National Ranking Table Tennis Championships is all set to kick off here sans top paddlers from Thursday.

The meet, beginning at the Veer Savarkar Municipal Corporation Stadium, will however miss the presence of top players Achanta Sharath Kamal, Soumyajit Ghosh and Anthony Amalraj who are engaged with their respective clubs drawing the ire of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).

In a press statement issued on Wednesday, the governing body of the sport in India said, "They may have their own reasons for doing so. 

However, with Italian coach Massimo Costantini assuming charge as national coach earlier this month and the TTFI laying out a road map for long-term preparations with him, the loss is that of the players.

"No doubt, their absence can be well utilised by the rest in the fray to build some reputation but it certainly takes the sting out of the tail as organisers and the TTFI suffer when they look for the glamour quotient. The sooner the players realise this, the better it would be for all," TTFI said in the statement.

There will be G. Sathiyan for the West Zone – he skipped Central Zone – along with Harmeet Desai who won the Central Zone title beating Subhajit Saha 4-0. 

Though Ravindra Kotiyan of RSCB has pulled out, players like Jubin Kumar, Utkarsh Gupta and others will add to the competitive edge in men's singles. 

Similarly, National women's singles champion Manika Batra, also the winner at Indore and Mouma Das along with K. Shamini, Pooja Sahasrabuddhe, Madhurika Patkar, Divya Deshpande, Suthirtha Mukkherjee and Archana Kamath, not to forget former national champion Paulomi Ghatak, will all lend glamour to women power.

Apart from Harmeet, an icon for hosts, Vadodara boy Manav Thakkar, with his recent performances, has become a household name in this part of the world. 

His double crown at Indore was a treat and the locals will be eager to watch him perform equally well at ‘home'. 

Manav, who was selected to represent India at the World Juniors later this year in South Africa, along with Ananth Devarajan and the rest of juniors, will enter the field on the third day itself following the men and women and Youth qualification events. 

Their showing in the domestic events will launch them on to bigger stages like 2022 and 2026 Asian and Commonwealth Games.

Constantini and Arup Basak, one of the national selectors, will be keenly watching them and making mental notes before ticking the eligibility boxes on which of these boys and girls can be a part of the long-term investment plans of the TTFI. 

In addition, a good finish will also fetch the top eight players in each category cash incentives from the Rs. 6 lakh prize money and sizeable ranking points.

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