Ace Indian paddler Soumyajit Ghosh, who along with G Sathiyan came close to toppling the top-seeded Japanese duo of Jin Uda and Maharu Yoshimura only to end with a silver in the men’s doubles at the Bulgaria Open in Panagyurishte last week, feels this is the best phase for table tennis in the country in recent times.
Ghosh and Sathiyan, playing as a team for the first time since their formative years, gave the experienced Japanese pair a tough fight before eventually finishing with a silver.
The Japanese duo won 11-13, 11-7, 11-4, 6-11, 11-5 leaving India still awaiting their first gold medal on the ITTF World Tour.
“I think Indian table tennis is in the right direction,” Soumyajit told IANS over phone from the Czech Republic on Wednesday.
“This has clearly been the best one year or so for the sport in India. No doubt about it. You will get more feedback when you ask the foreign players. They are now scared of Indian players… they have so much respect for us,” the Siliguri-born player said.
Last year, Indian table tennis men’s and women’s teams scripted history by bagging the gold medals at the World table tennis team championships.
This was the first time India qualified for the champions division or the top tier of the team championships.
Individually, paddler Sathiyan broke a six-year jinx to lift the Belgium Open title defying odds.
India also leapfrogged 11 places from 26 in the team rankings two years back to 15 now.
“We are among the top 15 teams in the world where there are more than 200 countries playing. We had four players qualifying for the Olympics last year and there are six players (men’s) in top 100 in the new ranking system,” Ghosh said.
Indian paddlers need to continue working hard and the support from the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) should be the same like it has been in recent times, Soumyajt said elaborating on what needs to be done in order to topple the Japanese from their apex position.
“We need to keep working hard. We need the same support from TTFI and SAI. What we are getting for the last few years has been amazing. I am very much thankful to TTFI.”
Soumyajit said the signs are bright as he and Sathiyan pushed the Japanese pair to the brink this time.
“I played them before with Harmeet (Desai) but we had no chance. This time we could challenge them actually.
“They are one of the best pairs in the world and we (he and Sathiyan) don’t play each other. It was our coach (Massimo Costantini) who wanted to try us as the Commonwealth Games are coming up….
“So he wanted to try and we got a medal… which is I believe a good result.”