UTT 30th Masters National Table Tennis Championships: Time to show character and masterly acts

table tennis symbollic pixHyderabad: Sow a habit and reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny. Believing in this old saying, 1,150 veteran players have assembled here for the six-day UTT 30th Masters National Table Tennis Championships commencing at the Saroornagar Indoor Stadium tomorrow.

Despite their age, which is just a number for them, their enthusiasm is unparalleled and equal to that of young children. It has, in fact, grown with age to higher proportions, and such a large turnout is a testament to it, as the entries have almost touched the figure of 2,000. The number of events has also swelled correspondingly to stand at 43. However, the age categories remain the same as before—40+ to 80+—with as many as seven team events for the men and four for the women, including one for the combined age groups of above 40, 50, 65, 70 and 75).

It is a win-win situation for all concerned, especially the players. Yet, it would be a challenging job for the Competition Department of the TTFI, which had to squeeze in a tight schedule to complete all the events in half a dozen days. One can expect the event to stretch beyond the scheduled hours on all days despite employing 24 Stag Global tables, flooring and balls.

The championships are held under the newly-elected Indian Veterans Table Tennis Committee (IVTTC), headed by K.K. Maheshwari, who is also the president of the Telangana State Table Tennis Association.

As in the past, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka lead the pack from nearly 30 states and institutions with the most entries. Not to be outdone, hosts Telangana have entered the fray with participants in large numbers. However, the singles crowns in three categories—above 40, 50 and 60—will witness stiff competition, as always.

Maharashtra, the overall champions in the previous edition at Jalandhar, are the team to beat as their players are likely to collect the maximum medals across age categories. But the paddlers from West Bengal, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu would give them a hot chase in the race for the silverware. So is the case with Delhi paddlers who have earned their podium places in the past with resolve and courage, and one can rely on them to put their best foot forward, notwithstanding the searing heat in the city.

The team events in both sections for those above 40 and 50 will commence only after the conclusion of team events in higher age sections and the singles and other doubles match-ups.

As usual, the technical team, headed by competition manager N. Ganeshan and referees A.S. Kler and T.G. Upadhya, will set the ball rolling with the team events from 11 a.m. after the formal inauguration at 10.30 a.m. The top-heavy technical team will have two deputies in T.G. Upadhya, Mangesh Mopker and K.R. Manjunatha, besides 45 other international and national umpires.