With two crucial International table tennis tournaments clashing with each other, India’s top paddler Sharath Kamal has spoken to Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) and asked for clarification.
While the WTT-Star Contender is scheduled from March 06 to 13 in Doha, the Asian qualification tournament will take place between March 13 and 15.
“There is a problem there. What if I reach the semifinals of Star Contender on March 13? Then how can I compete in the Asian tournament which starts on the same dates? If TTFI asks me to skip the Star Contender and play in Asian tournament, I have no choice. But playing in Star Contender will help me improve my world rankings,” Sharath told Sportstar in Chennai on Sunday.
Meanwhile, after a disastrous performance in the World team table tennis championships in Gondomar (Portugal) where India failed to qualify, the Indian players would be keen to make amends in singles and make it to Tokyo Olympics through the Asian qualification event.
The winner of the [South] Asian tournament will directly qualify for the Olympics. India’s top two players, Sharath Kamal and G. Sathiyan, [Olympic] ranked 32 and 37 in the world, being the highest-ranked paddlers in the field, are hoping to reach the final given the quality and rankings of those in the fray.
Even the second-placed player, too has a chance to qualify for Tokyo, and it could be an Indian male in all probability. According to the qualification system, of the players who finish second in all the regional qualification events, one will go through based on his/her world rankings. On this count, both Sharath and Sathiyan top the list, they say. With such a prospect, Sharath and Sathiyan believe they don’t have to play in the World singles qualification tournament in Doha from March 16 to 19.
India is hoping to make the Olympic grade in mixed doubles, too with Sharath and Manika Batra pairing together. Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee will represent India in women’s singles in the Asian qualification tournament.
“We should make it in men’s singles,” Sharath and Sathiyan added.