Srushti Haleangadi and Sanish Ambekar will lead the charge for Maharashtra ‘A’ girls’ and boys’ teams respectively in the Team Championship of the 11Even Sports 78th Junior and Youth National Championships, which gets underway at the SAMA Indoor Complex Vadodara from Friday, January 6, 2017. Manasi Chiplunkar and Mandar Hardikar will captain the Maharashtra ‘B’ girls’ and boy’s teams.
In the junior category, Srushti will also lead the Maharashtra ‘A’ girls’ team while Shreya Deshpande will skipper the Maharashtra ‘B’ side. In the junior boys’ competition, Shubham Ambre and Mandar Hardikar have been named captains of the Maharashtra ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams respectively.
The significance of this championship is that 12 players from each section — Junior Boys and Junior Girls, Youth Boys and Youth Girls — will be selected for the India camps as the federation, in tune with the Sports Ministry’s initiative, wants to groom the youngsters and them prepare for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.
With the Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) giving the go-ahead, TTFI is looking to invest on youngsters who will go a long way and last beyond the 2024 Games. Of course, there are also plans afoot to induct an equal number of Sub-Junior Boys and Girls but there will be a process of weeding out which will follow after seeing the players’ progress at the camps. This was announced by Dhanraj Choudhary, Secretary General of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).
Events will be conducted for Junior and Youth boys’ and girls’ team championships and Junior boys’ and girls’ singles and doubles and Youth boys’ and girls’ singles and doubles.
The Maharashtra team which finished runners-up in the Youth Championship last year in Dharamsala, are favourites to go the distance. But to ensure that, the state team comprising of Sanish, Siddhesh Pande, Kotiyan Ravindra and Shubham Ambre, will have to ward off challenges from last year’s semi-finalists Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and other quarter-finalists like PSPB, West Bengal, Maharashtra ‘B’ and Delhi, which has a strong team this year with game changers Payas Jain and Yashansh Malik the in their ranks.
As for Junior Girls, Maharashtra, Srushti Haleangadi, Shruti Amrute, Manushree Patil and Diya Chitale, are the team to beat though they finished runners-up behind Telangana in the last edition. Since then, much has happened with Maharashtra girls showing more maturity in winning individual titles during the zonal events.
But, in recent times, other teams have also gained in strength and it makes the list of title contenders long and sturdy. Hence, any prediction at this stage is fraught with dangers because one always runs the risk of going wrong on the forecast.
The Maharashtra teams will have the guidance of renowned coaches – Vaibhav Pawar, Amey Joshi, Narendra Chiplunkar and Jay Modak.
The team championship commences from Friday and there 32 teams and institutions in Junior and Youth Boys sections and 29 teams in Junior and Youth Girls categories. Competition manager N. Ganeshan said that the teams divided into eight groups and will play the round-robin league in the first stages with each group throwing up just two qualifiers who will go onto play the second stages of the championships, which will be played on a knockout basis.
The singles events which begin from Day 4 will see over 600 players divided into groups of three and four for the first stages event. One qualifier from each group will go on to play the knockout stage matches where they will be joined by eight top-ranked players, who will be given the seeding.
More than 600 players and 70 coaches/Managers will be participating in the six-day Championships with HVR Sports as the associate sponsors and supported by the Sports Authority of Gujarat. The other sponsors of the event are IOCL, GAIL, Reliance Industries Ltd, Airport Authority of India and STIGA
The participants will not only be eyeing for the prize money on offer during the singles events but also the ranking points which are vital to take them to the next big stage of getting selected to Team India. With selectors and foreign coach Massimo Costantini in place during the six-day meet, the players have everything to gain.
According to competition manager, N. Ganeshan, chief referee for the championships will be A.S. Kler and he will be assisted by three deputy referees and about 60 Blue Badge, international and national umpires. Sixteen Stiga tables and balls will be used for the championships, which is organized by the Gujarat State Table Tennis Association and conducted by the Table Tennis Association of Baroda, said Ganeshan.
Junior girl’s: Maharashtra ‘A’ – Srushti Haleangadi, Shruti Amrute, Manushree Patil, Diya Chitale.
Maharashtra ‘B’: Shreya Deshpande, Manasi Chiplunkar, Aditi Sinha, Dyuti Patki.
Youth girl’s: Maharashtra ‘A’ – Srushti Haleangadi, Rutuja Khopkar, Manushree Patil, Shruti Amrute.
Maharashtra ‘B’ – Manasi Chiplunkar, Ashlesha Trehan, Dyuti Patki, Shreya Deshpande.
Junior boy’s: Maharashtra ‘A’ – Shubham Ambre, Shaurya Pednekar, Jash Dalvi, Aniruddha Marathe.
Maharashtra ‘B’ – Mandar Hardikar, Raegan Albuquerque, Ashwin Subramanian, Hrisikesh Malhotra.
Youth boy’s: Maharashtra ‘A’ – Sanish Ambekar, Siddhesh Pande, Kotiyan Ravindra, Shubham Ambre.
Maharashtra ‘B’ – Mandar Hardikar, Yugandh Zende, Jignesh Rahatwal, Raegan Albuquerque.