February 15, 2021 4:30:14 am
Come Monday, the cream of Indian table tennis including nine-time national champion and world number 32 Sharath Kamal, world number 37 Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, world number 73 Harmeet Desai, and 2018 CWG champion and world number 63 Manika Batra will converge in Panchkula for the 82nd Senior National Table Tennis Championship to be played at Multipurpose Hall, Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Sector 3, Panchkula.
While the table tennis action in the country could not resume due to Covid-19 earlier, Table Tennis Federation of India will resume the domestic calendar with this week’s nationals at Panchkula apart from four more national championships in various categories in the coming weeks at Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
The national championship will see the women’s singles matches being played form February 15 to February 18 followed by men’s single matches being played from February 20 to February 23. “The Senior National Table Tennis National Championship will mark the return of domestic competitive tournaments for the players. All the players including Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Harmeet Desai, Manika Batra will be competing in Panchkula. A total of 560 players will be competing in the championships and about 140 officials including referees will be there. All our state units have completed their state championships and respective selected players will be competing. There will be no team or mixed doubles category,” MP Singh, secretary general, Table Tennis Federation of India, told The Indian Express.
Table Tennis Federation of India had organised the 81st National Table Tennis Senior Championship in February last year post which no domestic tournament could be held due to Covid-19.
While this year’s championship was earlier scheduled to be held in Sonepat, the federation shifted the venue of the championship to Panchkula last month. All the players, support staff and officials were required to undertake a PCR test 72 hours prior to their arrival and will be undergoing daily antigen testing done by the Haryana health department at the venue.
“We are perhaps the only federation to conduct five national championships including the senior, junior, cadet, sub-junior national championships in the coming weeks. All the players apart from support staff and officials are required to produce negative PCR test report on their arrival and there will be daily antigen testing at the venue. There will 12 TT tables placed at a distance of nine feet each and players will not be allowed to shake hands with officials and between themselves. The courts will be sanitized after each session and fans or parents who wish to watch matches too have to produce negative test report. Practice session will be only for two hours per day. Players have been allowed to share room with one player at their respective hotels,” added Singh.
While some players have competed in some tournaments abroad, nine-time national champion Sharath Kamal had organised a mini training camp for some players in Chennai in January.
Post the senior nationals, Indian players are set to compete in the two International Table Tennis Federation events in Doha, Qatar in March.
“Apart from the junior, sub-junior, cadet and youth nationals, we are also organising the Para nationals in Indore this month. The senior nationals at Panchkula will provide the players also a perfect platform to prepare for the ITTF events to be held in Doha, Qatar, next month,” concluded Singh.
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