All India National Ranking Table Tennis Championships: Mouma Das stays on course

ttDharwad: Five-time national champion Mouma Das is in a peculiar situation. After having to begin her campaign through qualification in the LIC-IOC All India National Ranking Table Tennis Championships (South Zone) at the District Indoor Stadium here, the veteran with 16 world championships appearances to her credit, will have to play the preliminary round tonight to book her main draw berth.

The one match that she lost yesterday to Chipia Frenaz of AAI may have embarrassed the two-time Olympian to no end, but being a very sporty personality that she is, Mouma will take it in her strides and move on.

Mouma is one among the 20 paddlers as group runners-up and will have to play the preliminary round to get into the main draw which will be of 64 players. No doubt, the experienced Kolkatan should easily tame her Andhra Pradesh rival B. Nagasravani when they meet later tonight and from there she would try to hit the purple patch.

Meanwhile, 66 woman paddlers qualified from 33 groups and 86 men from 43 groups. The system of two qualifiers making the main draw cut from each group was introduced by TTFI from this year in order give the second-finishing players a better competition and an additional match.

All the 16 seeded players in men singles begin their action from tomorrow from second round with byes offered to them because of their better ranking in a draw of 128. However, the top eight seeds in women singles begin their knock-out campaign straightaway with 10 players from the preliminary round completing the draw of 64.

Three local girls—Samyukta Ananth Kumar, Sushmita Bidri and Kushi Viswanath—made it to the main draw. Samyukta topped her group in a three-way tie after Shailu Noorbasha of Andhra and Trisha Gogoi of Assam matching her tally of five points. Sushmita Bidri and Kushi finished runners-up in their group which also means they could be straightaway running into seeded players in their first round.

In men singles, Rakshit Barigidad qualified topping group 43, while P.V. Charan, Dinakar Naidu, Shailaditya and Suramit Samaddar finished second in their respective groups to make it to the draw of 128. 

The second day also saw group qualification in the Youth section, the main draw of which will commence tomorrow. The junior events, too, begin on the third day with group qualifications.