Young K. R. Rohit is one of the few players using pimple rubbers on both sides of his racket to make it so fast to the No.3 position at the junior level in India

Playing with pimple rubbers is no easy task, but in India paddlers use them for “quick results” at the junior level. Many young paddlers use these rubbers on either the forehand side or the backhand. Very few employ them on both the sides. In the last 30 years, except for S. Sriram (he won the men’s National singles title in 1983-84), nobody has used such rubbers with great success.

Sixteen-year-old K. R. Rohit of Lord’s Table Tennis Academy (LTTA) is one of the very few players tasting success in the junior section with pimple rubbers on both the forehand and the backhand sides.

A Standard XII student of Don Bosco (Egmore), Rohit’s power as a player is at its peak, being ranked No.3 in India in the junior category, and his coach Christopher Anas feels what Rohit has achieved in a short span is something not many have done.

“It’s been a dramatic rise,” explains Anas. “In 2011, he was not ranked in the top eight either in Tamil Nadu or in India, but by the end of 2012, he was in the top five in both levels in the junior section.”

Remarkable progress

Since taking up the sport, thanks to the interest shown by his father who bought a table to play at home when his son was studying in Standard IV, Rohit has shown remarkable progress in quick time.

The turning point, according to Rohit, came in the West Zone National ranking tournament in Gandhidham in 2011, when he reached the semifinals creating a couple of upsets on the way. “Gandhidham came at the right time. There, I got the confidence and belief that I was on the right track. I beat two higher-ranked players, Berdi Boro and Lalrinpuia,” he says. Rohit’s maiden International assignment came last year when he was selected for the World junior championship in Hyderabad, and he was wiser for the experience.

“To see the Chinese play was great. In the first round, I beat World No.91 from the Czech Republic and lost to World No.23 in the second. The experience was good. To play against the world’s best was something unbelievable,” he says.

Rohit’s second International foray came in the International Table Tennis Federation Slovak Junior Open this year where the Indian boys’ team bagged silver. “In Slovakia, foreign players don’t worry about losing. We try to play safe. At any point, they almost always attack,” observes Rohit, who is sponsored by GAIL.

Perseverance

While giving credit to the rubbers, Anas attributes Rohit’s rise to his perseverance and sincerity. “It requires good ball control and ball sense to play pimple rubbers, and Rohit has this in plenty,” he says.

Former International player Arul Selvi, who was coach of the Indian team for the International Table Tennis Federation-Slovak Junior Open, praises Rohit for his time management and feel for the ball, but cautions that the youngster has to concentrate more on his fitness. “Since he uses pimple rubbers on both forehand and backhand, we’ll have to watch how he progresses. Since he doesn’t attack much, he cannot overpower his opponents. His strokes are limited. So it’s all the more important, he improves his fitness. His service too needs improvement,” she says. Rohit says pressure will be on him now that he is at the top. “This year will be important, for I will be ranked No. 2 in the National junior list. Earlier, no one knew how I played. Now people will analyse my game. I know I have to work on my fitness,” he says.