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Table tennis ladder torch-bearer come of age

Table tennis ladder torch-bearer come of age
Highlights

For a 17-year-old player from Hyderabad, where the sport is not exactly to the lofty levels that are prevalent in say Kolkata, Chennai or other national powerhouses, S Fidel R Snehit has been scaling the table tennis ladder with remarkable consistency.

Hyderabad: For a 17-year-old player from Hyderabad, where the sport is not exactly to the lofty levels that are prevalent in say Kolkata, Chennai or other national powerhouses, S Fidel R Snehit has been scaling the table tennis ladder with remarkable consistency.

Of course, some fine talents have emerged in Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh every now and then. Most have faded into oblivion either because of academic compulsions or for their failure to survive the bigger challenges.

What is ironical is that many of the talents have come in the girl’s category with less than a handful making the grade in the boys and men categories. Only P Vighney Reddy raised the bar to an extent, and made it to Reserve Bank of India.

Given the rather lackadaisical presence in the men draw, the arrival of Snehit does augur well, particularly in this part of the country, where players are dime a dozen but fail to impress qualitatively, a fact that gets exposed when they face age-group peers from other States.

One wonders why a city that boasts of a sizeable number of academies has not been able to produce even a single reputed male player. Mir Khasim Ali is the last home-grown talent, the gladiator whose magnificence remains amongst the high points of Indian table tennis and inarguably the finest from the two neighbouring States.

Given the sorry backdrop, the emergence of Snehit can be seen as a great forward leap as his showing instill a sense of optimism that Hyderabad may boast of a top-bracket performer in the not too distant future.

One of the reasons for his coming of age has been his grooming at Global Table tennis Academy (GTTA), which, in a way, pioneered a trend that has paved the way for its trainees to get better and more quality exposure. Snehit and Sreeja Akula have been the biggest success stories from the initiative, which was an extension of the diligent grooming by Somnath Ghosh.

Unlike most academies that would rest content with their products winning district and State-level titles, GTTA tied up with the acclaimed West Bengal academy, Naihati Youth Association that is mentored by a proven tough task-master like Mihir Ghosh.

It has been a blessing because the young hopefuls were given advanced training in developing the killer-instinct and achieving a mental equilibrium that has been holding them in good stead in crunch situations. Today, if Sreeja is making waves in her category, Snehit has been matching her in terms of giant strides, stroke for stroke.

For a player whose career has been inching upward from the time he was introduced to the sport, his achievements should not come as a surprise considering the talent he seems to be naturally endowed with.

If GTTA has made a wise investment in sending him to S Raman, under whose wings he currently is in Chennai, the gifted paddler is not only leaving everyone awestruck but is also catching the eyes of people who matter -- his silver exploits in the first national ranking Central Zone tournament in Indore saw him getting an unexpected berth in the national squad.

It was at the behest of Italian Massimo Costantini, the coach of the Indian team, who was thoroughly ‘impressed by the boy’!
Pretty obviously the 12th standard student of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Jubilee Hills, is on cloud nine as his next destination will be Amman, which will host the coveted Jordan Open Junior and Cadet Open tournament.

“It will be fantastic to get fine-tuned by Costantini, who will be training the national squad at Patiala ahead of the Jordan event. I will give my best to win medals and further my morale as I gear up for the bigger challenges that await me,” exudes the first paddler from the Telugu-speaking States to win a Nationals medal in over 25 years.

Incidentally, he will turn 17 on July 11, a day after the commencement of the conditioning camp.Chips in Raman, "Snehit is very good talent to invest in for a teenager. He has a sound temperament and good physique to go the distance. He can evolve into a world-class player as he graduates into the bigger league.

I am working on his strengths and weaknesses."The stint with Raman will hopefully result in an all-round growth of Snehit and make him a player to be reckoned with.

Having rubbed shoulders with his overseas opponents in China Open, Thailand Open, South Asian Games and Indian Open, Snehit, the beacon of hope for the State, remains optimistic about his prowess coming good in the Jordan Open.
That spirit of exuberance exists with all those who have been following his career for quite a while now.

By Sridhar K Penna

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