Other Sports

The unstoppable rise

When Archana Kamath lifted the women’s singles trophy with her endearing smile at the 80th Senior National Table Tennis championships in Cuttack on January 9, it made for a pretty picture. More than that, it marked a historic moment for table tennis in Karnataka. It was after 50 years that Karnataka found its truly home-grown national champion.

The last one to achieve that feat was the five-time former National champion Usha Sunderraj, who had won her last title in 1968. The 18-year-old Archana Kamath also became the youngest National champion in 30 years.

Given her immense talent, it was expected that Archana, who now represents Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), would become a national champion one day, it only happened sooner than expected, within five years of her début in the senior ranks in 2013.

What makes Archana’s victory special is the manner in which she achieved it. She played some tough ties. Down 0-3 in the round of 32, she came back to win the tie. Later she beat Manika Batra, the Commonwealth Games champion, in the semifinals. In the final, she accounted for another formidable player in Krittwika Sinha Roy. Her game revolves around speed, with lethal attacks on both flanks and the ability to stay focussed.

“It was a great feeling to have won the National title. I am glad that my preparations paid off well. Yes, it was not easy beating Manika and Krittwika. There were a lot of rallies in the match against Manika and I managed to stay on top. The win over Krittwika was very satisfying as I had never beaten her before,” she says.

Archana skipped the youth Nationals due to a niggling knee injury, but trained at Patiala where there was a National camp. She later trained with Railways players at their camp in Bengaluru under coach Bona Thomas John.

“Besides those camps, I also trained with the State players, who were bound for Cuttack. I was mentally and physically well set for the Nationals,” says Archana.

Looking ahead, Archana is leaving for Europe shortly to play in the Hungarian Open. “My goal is to win as many titles as possible in international tournaments and bring laurels to the country.”

Archana’s parents, Dr. Girish and Anuradha Kamath, have supported her. Kamath says, “I believe that her passion, dedication and hard work will carry her far in the game. Her confidence too is at an all-time high after reaching the semi-finals in the Youth Olympics and that was one of the reasons for her victory in the Senior Nationals.”

Coaches Bona Thomas John and Sagayaraj were pleased with her show in the Nationals. “No other woman player in the country has the kind of game that Archana has. She packs more power in her strokes now. She is truly emerging as a world-class player now,” says John. Sagayaraj echoes that sentiment, commenting that he never doubted her potential.

Usha Sunderraj expressed her happiness that a player from Karnataka has emulated her feat. “She deserves all the credit and I wish that she brings more laurels to the State and country,” she says.

Archana Vishwanath, who was a National finalist in 1994, observes: “Archana is a natural talent, a fast learner and a humble girl and that impresses me the most.” G.K. Vishwanath, the former national doubles champion and Archana Vishwanath’s husband, urges the State Association to groom more youngsters. “Her victory is a catalyst for the growth of the game in Karnataka and the KTTA should seize this opportunity and promote more young talent,” he advises.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 10, 2021 4:22:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/the-unstoppable-rise/article26058061.ece

Next Story