SPORT

A fornight to remember for Archana

Fruitful association:Archana Kamath with her coach A. Sagayaraj.Special Arrangement

Fruitful association:Archana Kamath with her coach A. Sagayaraj.Special Arrangement  

This has been a good fortnight for Archana Kamath. After securing the Junior and Youth National singles titles in Durgapur last week, the Bengaluru girl finished runner-up in the women’s doubles at the Senior Nationals on Tuesday. Archana and her partner Mouma Das, representing PSPB, lost a close final to West Bengal’s Mousumi Paul and Kritwika Sinha Roy in Ranchi, after having led 2-1 at one point.

“They could have won it, but the opponents played really well in the decider,” says A. Sagayaraj, Archana’s coach. In the women’s singles, the 17-year-old lost in the pre-quarterfinals, but it is only a matter of time, feels Sagayaraj, before she starts making a mark in the Senior category. “I expect her to win a women’s title the next year or the year after,” he says.

Archana’s double triumph in Durgapur, though, came as no surprise to anyone. “For a year and I half, I had been travelling non-stop. This time, after a long gap, I got to spend 15 days at home. So I was relaxed going into the tournament,” she says.

It also helped that Archana was fresh off a fine performance in December’s World Junior Championships in Italy, where she went to the round of 16, eventually losing to the Chinese second seed Wang Manyu. That run brought her 1050 world ranking points (U-18), and immeasurable confidence.

“Her top-spin and her attacking game have improved a lot,” notes Sagayaraj. “She’s very aggressive and does not play the slow, blocking game we see from many others.”

Archana’s steadily improving fitness — for which she credits her strength and conditioning coach, Deckline Leitao — has also played a part. “Her speed has gone up a great deal,” Sagayaraj says. “She’s one or two levels above the competition.”

Archana will now leave for the ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals, commencing on Friday in Luxembourg. She’s the top Junior from India in the world rankings, at 18, and has her sights set on bigger things.

“I always want to win but I don’t think about other things,” she says.

“Frankly, I have no expectations when I play a tournament.” In Durgapur, though, Archana did have something else on her mind. The former Karnataka and India coach S. Vijaysarathi passed away on New Year’s Day here at 53; the news came as a shock to her.

“I had interacted with him when he was my coach at the national camp,” she says. “I want to thank him. I dedicate these titles to him.”

Recommended for you