Led by India No. 3 Harmeet Desai and his wife Krittwika Sinha Roy, host Gujarat is gunning for a record medal haul from table tennis in the 36th National Games.
Table tennis competition would be held from September 20-24 at the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Indoor Stadium in Surat and the fans would be hoping that local boy Desai would come to the party just like the last edition of the Games in Kerala.
Desai, a member of the 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning men’s teams, had bagged an individual and team silver along with men’s doubles gold partnering Devesh Karia back in 2015. The men’s team had also won the silver in the 2011 National Games in Ranchi.
However, Gujarat would be gunning for team gold this time with former world No. 1 in U-18 and U-21 categories, Manav Thakkar and the up-and-coming Manush Shah lending support to the captain.
All the three players would be eyeing glory in individual events as well while the authorities are confident of the women’s team finishing on the podium.
The training camp for the National Games, organised by Gujarat State Table Tennis Association (GSTTA) and supported by the Sports Authority of Gujarat, is currently underway at Tapti Valley International School in Surat with Desai and Thakkar scheduled to join the team on September 15 after finishing their international commitments.
“Our boys and girls have done well in the past. We have a very strong team this time too and playing in front of a home crowd will give us the advantage,” said GSTTA president Vipul Mittra.
Team captain Desai was excited about the prospect of playing in his hometown and said team gold was a realistic target. “We really have a strong and balanced team. All teams will be wary of our strength, and we will also have the local crowd support. I feel we have a great chance of winning the gold at the national games.”
Women’s team captain Krittwika admitted that there were some formidable teams but insisted that the Gujarat women could spring a surprise. “On paper, we may not be the best team but this is TT. We are capable of upsetting better teams on our day. Our preparations are going on really well,” she said.
Men’s: Harmeet Desai (SRT) (captain), Manav Thakkar (SRT), Manush Shah (BRD), Ishaan Hingorani (KCH), Chitrax Bhatt (AHD)
Women’s: Krittwika Sinha Roy (SRT) (captain), Frenaz Chipia (SRT), Filzah Kadri (SRT), Kausha Bhairapure (AHD), Prathna Parmar (BVN)