Indian TT star Sharath Kamal moves to tougher German league

July 23rd, 2010 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

By Bharat Sharma
New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) After winning back-to-back US and Egypt Open titles earlier this month, India’s top table tennis star Sharath Kamal is moving to Germany from Spain in his bid to break into the top-20 of the world rankings.

The lanky Chennai player feels that the German league is a lot more competitive and has better-ranked players. He has signed a 10-month contract with German club Grafelfing Munich after playing in Spain for four years.

Currently ranked 76th, Kamal’s calculation is that he should be 39th when the new rankings are announced in the first week of August, coinciding with the start of the German league.

“My contract in the Spanish league expired a few months ago. I will be moving to Germany and it gives me a chance to play with top players and the competition will be much tougher compared to what I encountered in the Spanish league,” Kamal told IANS on the phone from Patiala, where he is training with the Commonwealth squad.

Kamal’s recent good showing came in the wake of his disappointing defeat in the semifinals of the Indian Open in June when he was beaten by a higher-ranked German and eventual winner, Dimitrij Ovtcharov.

Kamal said he would be losing out monetarily by going to Germany, but the competition there would compensate enormously.

“Money is important in any professional sportsman’s life, but I am prepared to lose out a bit for better exposure to competitive table tennis. I can still sustain myself and pay for my visits home.”

However, in terms of sponsorship, he has not been able to cash in on his two titles and the consequent rise in the rankings.

“As of now, I am only getting support from the government and it’s for the whole team, and not for me alone,” said Kamal.

He does not see the lack of support as a deterrent. He is in perfect shape for the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games and is confident of defending his title.

“I am playing the best table tennis of my life at the moment. Our national coach Massimo Constantini and his support staff have been of great help in the last couple of years. We expect tough competition from teams like Singapore but I am confident I will be able to defend my title,” said Kamal.

After the Patiala camp, Kamal and his teammates will be going to China and then to Europe for further training in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games.

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