48th All India Inter-Institutional Championships : Quarterfinal exit of Sharath or Sathiyan on cards
Coimbatore, August 4: The top seed position accorded to Manav Thakkar in men singles event for the AAI 48th All India Inter-Institutional Championships, held at the Bharathiar University Indoor Hall here, will see two top-ranked Indians in the world clashing with each other in the quarterfinals.
This is a peculiar situation where one of the two—world No. 33 A. Sharatah Kamal and world No. 39 G. Sathiyan—will not progress to the semi-finals, but as per the open draw policy adopted by the competition department of TTFI for more than two seasons now, the clash of two titans in the quarters was inevitable.
Though Sharath, who had participated in the season-opener North Zone at Panchkula, is seeded No. 5 here, Sathiyan, who is yet to take part in a domestic event this season, is seeded 16. In other words, both are in the saw quarter of the main draw and could be running into each other at the quarterfinals stage. Since Sathiyan is among the top 100 in world ranking, he could keep his place secured in the main draw, as per TTFI policy, without having to play the qualifiers.
One of the stars exiting early may take the sheen of the championships with spectators not able to see the two stars in the final. But this has sent a strong message to all players that more they participate in domestic programmes the better it is for the players.
But Manav deserve all the attention and encouragement because of his consistent performance and being the singles champion in both North and Central Zone tournaments.
In fact, a decision to give more weightage to domestic ranking points rather than world rankings was taken at the recent Executive Board meeting of TTFI, held at Panchkula in July.
Earlier, players’ seeding was decided considering the world ranking first and then the domestic rankings for these players. However, the national body and the competition department decided that invariably top paddlers of the country preferred competing in more international events, giving a scant regard to domestic tournaments.
In effect, the home competitions were devoid of star players and also defeated the very purpose of national ranking events, besides making a severe dent on their popularity. In fact, this was one of the concerns of the organisers, too.
The North Zone tournament at Panchkula at least saw participation a few Commonwealth Games gold medal winning stars, but the Central Zone meet had none. Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai had skipped the both the events because they were competing in tournaments abroad.
Meanwhile, in men singles 86 qualifiers were identified from 43 groups and the draw will be of 128 with a good spread of byes. However, out of the 60 paddlers who made the cut from 30 groups four will bow out in the preliminary round as their main draw will be of 64—eight seeded players join the remaining 56 players.
The singles main draw events begin tomorrow with the doubles taking place in the evening.
Men: Manav Thakkar, A. Amalraj, Arjun Ghosh, Raj Mondal, A. Sharath Kamal, Sanil Shetty, Jeet Chandra and Sushmit Sriram.
Women: Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Madhurika Patkar, Pooja Sahasrabudhe, Ayhika Mukherjee, Ankita Das, Archana Kamath and Divya Deshpande.