Table Tennis had a breath of fresh air as 2018 marked a picture-perfect year for the players of Indian contingent and for the Ultimate Table Tennis’ paddlers all around the world. From making the mark in the 2018 Commonwealth Games to attaining the career best ranks, things seemed to have fallen in the best place for the athletes and the sport in 2018.
Dabang Smashers TTC’s virtuoso, Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran were honoured with the prestigious Arjuna Award by former President Shri Ram Nath Kovind in September, which marked a remarkable achievement for the sport in India.
Their achievement headlined the rise of Ultimate Table Tennis players not just on a national scale but globally as well. While the Arjuna Award took the accolades of the achievements of the year, India’s performance at the Commonwealth Games 2018 also marked a major career highlight for the players in the country.
With seven medals at Gold Coast 2018 bagged through a mix of the Indian men’s and women’s and other individual events, these paddlers announced themselves to the world. Here’s the full list:
|India’s Medal Tally||Category||Medal|
|Team India – Men||Teams Event||Gold|
|Team India – Women||Teams Event||Gold|
|Manika Batra||Women’s Singles||Gold|
|Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran||Men’s Doubles||Silver|
|Manika Batra and Mouma Das||Women’s Doubles||Silver|
|Sharath Kamal||Men’s Singles||Bronze|
|Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra||Mixed Doubles||Bronze|
UTT’s foreign professionals too made an impact in 2018. Dabang Smashers wonderkind, Adriana Diaz achieved her career best rank of 33 in September displaying some staggering performances and then went on to register a win at the 2018 PAN American Junior Championships. Apart from the Puerto Rican player, Warrior T.T. C’s ace paddler Quadri Aruna made his mark as he rose up the ranks by winning the African ITTF Championship and grabbing a career best rank of 18 in August’ 18. These were just a couple from a long list of players who went onto to record their career-best rankings this year.
|Name||Career-Best Ranks||Month||UTT Team|
|Sharath Kamal||30||December’18||Warriors T.T.C.|
|Manika Batra||52||December’18||Dabang Smashers T.T.C.|
|Sathiyan Gnanasekaran||31||December’18||Dabang Smashers T.T.C.|
|Liam Pitchford||16||December’18||Falcons TTC|
|Bernadette Scozs||18||December’18||Falcons TTC|
|Mattias Falck||12||November’18||RP-SG Mavericks|
|Sofia Polcanova||15||October’18||Warriors T.T.C.|
|Kristian Karlsson||17||March’18||Mahrashtra United|
|Nuytinck Cedric||38||March’18||Dabang Smashers T.T.C.|
|Doo Hoi Kem||9||January’18||RP-SG Mavericks|
|Sakura Mori||17||January’18||Dabang Smashers T.T.C.|
The season just got better as the mercurial athlete from Empowerji Challengers, Manav Thakkar, bid adieu to the Junior Circuit by clinching gold at 2018 Portugal Junior and Cadet Open. Known for his attacking style of play, Thakkar’s progress has been promising and bodes well for UTT’s brightest young talents.
Manika Batra concluded the year winning the ‘Breakthrough Table Tennis Star’ award at the prestigious International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Star Awards ceremony in Incheon, South Korea for her performance throughout the year.
It has indeed been a breakthrough year. Not just for Manika, but for ‘Ultimate Table Tennis’ as a whole.