Asian Junior TT: Boys team carries medal hopes

July 19th, 2011 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) India’s best chance of a medal in the 17th Asian Junior Table Tennis Championships, starting at the Thyagaraj Stadium here Wednesday will be in the junior boys team category (U-18) while China and Japan will be expected to lap up the maximum honours.

India’s junior boys secured a bronze in the last edition in Bangkok and though the team comprising three top-50 players - Soumyajit Ghosh (No.24), Harmeet Desai (36) and G. Sathiyan (47) - looks solid on paper, it will be a herculean task for them to upstage the top-two seeds China and Japan. The fourth-member of the team is Sourav Saha.

Promising Sathiyan and Desai have got scolarships from the International Table Tennis Federation to train in Sweden for six months.

Both Ghosh and Desai will play a crucial role if third seed India are to repeat their last year’s performance. Ghosh created history in December when he became the first Indian to win a medal in the World Junior Championship in Bratislava. He had won a bronze in mixed doubles.

Harmeet on the other hand comes into the event at the back of India’s maiden singles title in the ITTF global circuit junior events. He achieved the feat by beating Ghosh in the Austrian Open final this April.

Having said that, it will be tough for them to finish third with stiff competition expected from the likes of Singapore, South Korea and Chinese Taipei in the five-day event at the Thyagaraj Stadium.

“The junior boys are faring well in the international arena and are going to replace players in the senior team very soon. It will be a touch,too, ambitious to say that we can beat China and Japan but we stand a very good chance for the bronze,” Table Tennis Federation of India secretary general Dhanraj Choudhary told IANS.

“We are not hoping much from the girls but we do expect improvement from last year,” said Choudhary while referring to India’s ninth position in the junior girls team event.

The junior girls challenge will be shouldered by 43rd-ranked Manika Batra with the others members being Mallika Bhandarkar, Reeth Tennison and Charvi Kawle.

Seventeen countries are taking part in the annual event with 13 competing in the junior boys and 14 in the opposite category. The cadet event (U-15) will feature 11 teams in each category.

The tournament, happening in India after the 2009 edition in Jaipur, will also have players competing in the individual events. World no. 2 Lin Gaoyuan from China will be the highest-ranked player in the boys while Yang ha Eun of South Korea, sharing the same rank, will be the top paddler in girls category.

When asked about India’s chances in the individual competition, Choudhary said: “A medal looks very tough here but Ghosh and Harmeet are certain to reach the quarterfinals.”

The overall budget for the tournament is Rs. 80 lakhs.

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