Principal Correspondent

ALAPPUZHA: For a district long associated with rowers and canoeists, the stunning rise of another set of paddlers in Alappuzha is turning out into a stunning story.

A start was made with the opening of the Alappuzha YMCA Table Tennis Academy a few years ago.

The academy is now home to some of Kerala’s brightest talent. And the icing on the cake could be the 57th State table tennis championship which begins at the YMCA here on Wednesday.

Thiruvananthapuram has been a dominant force in the women’s section for many years but now Alappuzha, with little girls like Maria Rony and Shika Jacob leading the charge, looks set to grab the team trophy.

“Some of our best girls have virtually given up the game after joining professional colleges. Also, many of our juniors are yet to make their mark at the senior level,” said Thiruvananthapuram’s N. Ganeshan, international referee and the Chairman of the Kerala Table Tennis Association’s Technical Committee, about his district’s struggle on the State circuit.

Alappuzha does not have that problem for the time being for its talented girls, who will battle in the women’s section too, are in the 11-12 age group.

The State championship, a five-day affair, begins with the team events and the open events — singles and doubles — start only on November 14. The championship has attracted a record 400 players, including 140 girls. Competitions in seniors, juniors, youth, sub-juniors and cadet sections will be conducted.

The team events will be held on a league-cum-knockout basis but the youth section will be a knockout affair.

The matches start in the morning and the official inauguration, by Dr. K.S. Manoj, MP, will be in the evening.

The Alappuzha District Collector, V.K. Balakrishnan, will be the chief guest on the opening day.

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