Karnataka paddlers meet at Bangalore

Bangalore City Sports

Young paddlers are excited for the fifth tournament this year, which will decide their rankings prospects for representing the state at nationals.

The 23rd annual open state ranking table tennis tournament kicked off today with the under 11 category. The tournament, being held at the Malleshwaram Association will continue till December 2, 2021. A total of 440 players have registered from across the state, across all categories.

Tanishka Kalbhairav beat Rashi Rao in the under-11 girl’s finals by 3-1. Whereas, Vedant Vashisht defeated Pratham Rao 3-2 in the under-11 boy’s finals after an interesting battle of half an hour.

Young paddlers were excited to be at the tournament. Aanchal Dugal, 9, participating in her first tournament and roaring with each point, said that she was excited to participate in such a tournament.

Emotions were similar for 11-year-old Ashit. He said, “It is a learning platform for me to be a better player.”

Alok Dugal, father of Aanchal, was very happy for his daughter’s first participation at such a tournament. He said, “We are trying to give her appropriate coaching so that she can reach the nationals.”

Deepa, mother of another budding player said, “If they lose, it’s not so important. They will learn things the hard way.”

The tournament, sponsored by M. S. Ramaiah Memorial, is divided into seven categories – under-11, under-13, under-15, under-17, under-19, seniors, and non-medalist singles. The players earn points based on the stage they reach in the tournament. These points are considered along with points of other five tournaments held throughout the year. Players to represent Karnataka at national tournaments will be selected accordingly.

Krishna Arjun, a coach at Check mate academy and chairman at Rotary fellowship for Table Tennis in India said, “This is a very well structured tournament. It is not only a platform to exhibit their talent, but also to test their skills.”

Abhishek Shah, owner of a Table Tennis Academy said, “ All kinds of state tournaments are very important. It helps players to be strong and learn professionalism. Such tournaments are better than school tournaments since players from entire state participate.”

According to Arjun, the tournament also acts as a very good platform to create a pool of excellent players to represent the state at national level tournaments.

G Manoharan, Joint Secretary of Karnataka Table Tennis Association (KTTA) and Secretary of the Bengaluru Urban District Table Tennis Association explained the importance of the tournament. He said, “Karnataka currently has a few paddlers who represent India at international tournaments. Players from such tournament represent Karnataka at national level tournaments, and go on to represent India from there on. So such tournaments are very important.”

The organizers have a budget of approximately Rs. 50,000 for awards and prize money. The prize money for winners ranges from Rs. 1,000 for under 11 and under 13 categories and Rs. 3,000 for senior players. Manoharan believes that awarding the winners and runners-up with trophies motivates them to perform better.

However, Arjun expressed his concerns over the rewards. “Rewards are not as good as other games such as cricket or tennis. Even at national level tournaments, the rewards do not cover expenses incurred by the players for participation. But, we are hopeful that things will get better with time.”

A few players were warned by the officials for not being in the uniform that was prescribed. However, they were not disqualified considering their young age and first appearance at a professional tournament.