Team India returned from the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest with mixed results, as Sathiyan Gnanasekaran bowed out in the round of 32, his highest finish ever in the singles category at the tournament.
Sathiyan continued his fine form from the Asian Championships earlier this year in Japan, where he booked a place at the World Cup in China, to make it to the round of 32. He came up against world no. 7 Hugo Calderano and made the most of the match-up but ended up losing to the vastly talented Brazilian. Sathiyan also made it to the mixed-doubles round of 16 with his Dabang Smashers’ teammate, Archana Kamath.
The tournament served as a baptism of fire for newbies Archana Kamath and Team Challengers’ Manav Thakkar, who played for India for the first time ever in the world event.
Archana and Manav made it through to the main draw, winning the qualifiers easily, giving their fledgling international career a huge shot in the arm. It also served as a benchmark for the athletes, who recently graduated to the senior squad from the junior stages.
In an interview with the International Table Tennis Federation, Manav said, “The event really opened my eyes to what lies ahead of me, as I become part of a great Indian team. Budapest has given me the motivation to work harder because I have come across players with different styles of play. It is an experience that will again fire me up in my training. Now I know I need to be at my best if I hope to make a name for myself in the sport.”
In another set of results, Falcons TTC’s Sutirtha Mukherjee also caused an upset in the women’s singles category, as she downed RP-SG Mavericks’ Sabine Winter in the round of 128 to set up an encounter with Dabang Smashers’ Adriana Diaz but was eventually beaten by the Puerto Rican teenager.