One of the doyens of Indian table tennis Uttam Chandarana died here on Wednesday. He was 94. He won the men’s singles title in 1943 (Hyderabad), in 1948 (Colombo), in 1949 (Hyderabad) and in 1954 (Baroda). His wife died 35 years ago and he is survived by four daughters.
Farrokh Khodaiji, who won the national title in 1966 in Madras and in 1967 in Guwahati, said: ``I was one among the five players to be coached by Chandarana under the Rajkumari Amrit Kaur special coaching scheme in 1957. I was a left hander like him and he had an excellent back-hand play; his forehand too was good. The coaching stint was very short, but he used to follow my game and was my mentor. He pointed out the mistakes I was making and helped me sharpen by ball-play, all for gratis. He was a true all-round sportsman. Once I asked TTFI President T.D. Ranga Ramanujan the players he would rank in the top 5 and he said Chandarana would be on top of the heap.’’ Chandrana was living alone at a Tardeo flat.
Chandrana excelled in tennis, athletics, billiards and snooker and cricket. He was once involved in a century plus stand with Madhav Mantri in an inter-collegiate match. He also played the prestigious Kanga League. Three years ago he played a game of snooker with Dhruv Sitwala at the P. J. Hindu Gymkhana. He was the son of M. S. Chandarana who played the quadrangular tournament with C.K. Nayudu and against Mohammed Nissar.
Recently he told a magazine: ``I still enjoy cooking for myself. It is very important for every sportsperson to impart knowledge about sports with others. The work out during my competitive playing days has kept me going. I used to run from Tardeo to Colaba and back. Now I prefer to walk and spend my time playing few shots of billiards and table tennis. With regard to eating the right food, one should eat, what one can digest.’’
Chandarana’s funeral will be held on Friday.