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How the tables have turned

Chairs are stacked one upon the other in the verandah,so it’s easy to guess the opening ceremony of the Delhi State Ranking Table Tennis tournament is over.

Chairs are stacked one upon the other in the verandah,so it’s easy to guess the opening ceremony of the Delhi State Ranking Table Tennis tournament is over. Sitting amid those,Manjit Dua sips his tea as it drizzles outside,a well-deserved break after a hectic day. Organising a sports event,as the former national champion paddler finds out,is no less demanding than participating in one — and much less rewarding.

So what is the motivation? “To see Delhi table tennis back to where it was,” replies Dua,India No.1 in the 70s for seven years. An Arjuna awardee,Dua is now the president of the District Table Tennis Association (central) — one of the nine units of the Delhi State Table Tennis Association (DSTTA). “In my playing days we used to beat the best in the business regularly,now Delhi paddlers don’t even make it to the medal rounds anymore,” he says.

It’s not any former player grumbling about dwindling standards of the game,there is genuine concern in his voice. In some way,Delhi’s golden run at the nationals started and ended with Dua. He guided the team to it’s first-ever title at Indore in 1974 and he was again part of it when they pulled it off the last time — at home in 1983.

“In 1976 in Allahabad,Delhi won five titles across all the categories. That was also the year I came up with my best performance,I won four titles — men’s,men’s doubles,mixed doubles and team. Unfortunately,I was roped in by Railways at that time,otherwise Delhi would’ve won nine titles,” he recalls. He did return to play for Delhi and helped them win the men’s team championship in 1980 and 1982.

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Dua concedes there is still talent in Delhi; it’s just that they go on to play for institutions who provide them with financial security. “There is no dearth of individual talent here. We have the likes of Neha Aggrawal,but they go on to play for,say,PSPB,who obviously provide them with funds and jobs,” he says. “Since they take away all the cream,they dominate at the nationals.”

Dua in fact,has a solution to this state viz-a-viz institutional predicament. “While you cannot stop players from joining organisations,you can counter it by producing players in large numbers. Look at the states like Bengal,Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra —- these states also lose a lot of players to PSUs and Railways but they’ve so many talented players coming from the states that they remain a force at the nationals,” he adds.

For that he says,the state needs to create the right infrastructure. “Look at us,we are organising this event here at Rajendra Nagar community centre and not at a proper stadium. Alright,there’s work going on for the Commonwealth Games,but we should have had enough alternatives,” he says. Again,however,Dua looks at the brighter side of the things. “Hopefully once the games are over,the players will have better facilities to use. Hopefully,it will help raise the standard of the game too”,he signs off.

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Results (Day One): Under-8 (Pre-QFs): Ustat Singh bt Ashnoor Kaur 11-1 11-3; Tisha Kohli bt Sidhant Bajaj 11-4 11-0,Pranav Sharma bt Mehul Popli 11-4 11-3,Tanish Jain bt Arnav Agrawal 11-7 10-12 13-11,Manya Girdhar bt Kritika Grover 11-5 11-6,Pranshu bt Muskan Puri 11-6 11-6,Ridhi Bajaj bt Janvi Sharma 11-3,11-1; Cadet Boys (Round 2): Harshit Sharma bt Raunaq 5-11 11-3 11-7 7-11 11-8; Shiven Banga bt Mridul Nagpal 11-3 11-3 11-4; Parth Kohli bt Karan Popli 11-3 11-4 11-5,Chirag Kapoor bt Shubham Mittal 11-1 11-3 11-3,Tanmay Rastogi bt Yash Agrawal 11-5 11-4 11-6,Jai Mehlawat bt Sarthak Gupta 11-5 11-6 11-6,Angad Singh bt Prabhanjan Singh 11-6,11-4,11-8,Abhinav Lohia bt Parth Virmani 8-11 11-2 11-2 2-11 11-6.

First published on: 16-07-2009 at 12:34:43 am
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