Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024
Sreeja Akula's spectacular rise challenges Manika Batra's top spot

Sreeja Akula has been in phenomenal sort and reaping the added benefits of displaying other-worldly consistency for an Indian paddler, in the intercontinental arena.

Before this week, Sreeja rose to her profession-higher globe ranking of 40 to emerge as India’s amount two guiding Manika Batra, the country’s range-one particular women’s singles participant due to the fact 2018.

Sreeja, 25, is now effectively in contention to topple Manika from her place in the ongoing period, with her previously claiming two worldwide titles and wanting effectively-poised for more titles this 12 months.

The Hyderabadi paddler’s to start with second of reckoning came in 2022 when she gained the Commonwealth Games combined doubles gold in partnership with the poster boy of Indian desk tennis, Achanta Sharath Kamal. But Sreeja was nevertheless a yr powering to convey out her best and an eerie regularity.

Her minute of prominence arrived in January this calendar year when she created a sound start by winning the WTT Feeder Corpus Christi in Texas, United states, for her maiden worldwide crown.

On her way to the title, the Indian paddler, who was ranked 94th at the time, shown her freshly observed kind and zeal to upset best seed and planet no. 34 Amy Wang in a nail-biting quarterfinal clash, and environment no. 31 Lily Zhang in the remaining in 3 straight games.

She would go on her spectacular sort with yet yet another commendable general performance, as she produced a quarterfinal end at the WTT Star Contender Goa.

Sreeja’s most effective general performance came in the pre-quarterfinal, wherever she showcased sublime photographs on both of those sides of the desk to stun the then entire world no. 30 Hana Goda of Egypt, now rated 28th, 3- (11-8 11-6 14-12) in straight online games to development to the quarterfinal.

This performance served her split into the top 50 for the 1st time from the zone of the 90s in February.

On the contrary, Manika, in a swing of fortune, succumbed to earth no. 16 Xiaoxin Yang in the pre-quarterfinal at the celebration.

Creating but a different spectacular result at the World Desk Tennis Group Championships in Busan very last month, Sreeja held off a brave challenge from Chinese celebrity Wang Yidi, currently rated third in the environment.

Providing a sizzling effectiveness, Sreeja defeated Yidi in 3 straight online games. Despite India dropping the nail-biting contest 2-3, with Manika losing equally her matches, Sreeja manufactured a enormous assertion by demonstrating her rise in the massive league.

Sreeja’s considerable function in India’s pre-quarterfinal end at the party assisted the nationwide women’s workforce protected a spot in the Olympics in Paris for the to start with time.

Even though Manika recovered from her defeats against China in the team-phase ties in opposition to Hungary, Uzbekistan, and Spain, she could not have on the momentum even more.

Previous week, Sreeja received her next international title at the WTT Feeder Beirut II, beating globe no. 36 Suh Hyo Gained of Korea and Liu Hsing-Yin en route.

Subsequent her dominating performances in Lebanon, Sreeja produced a seven-place leap to rise to 40, enabling her to knock at Manika’s top rated position.

With Sreeja coming painfully close to toppling Manika from her quantity 1 India rank, the star paddler observed herself in a capture-22 scenario.

Manika, who has been India’s range just one women’s singles player since February 2018 reached on the back again of her two gold and as many bronze successful shows at the Commonwealth Games, and a person far more bronze in the Asian Online games, needs to ramp up her sport and shun inconsistency to increase her rating to keep on being on prime of the India rankings.

The poster lady of Indian women’s desk tennis for 6 several years, Manika has been battling to get back her mojo considering the fact that she established record at the Asian Game titles in Hangzhou in 2023 getting the 1st Indian singles participant to arrive at the quarterfinals.

As both Manika and Sreeja are set to stand for India at the ITTF Globe Cup in Macao, scheduled for April 15-21, Indian enthusiasts ought to equipment up for an thrilling battle.

For Manika, the tournament is coming as a make-or-crack condition. Manika, who very last gained a medal – a silver – at the WTT Star Contender Goa in 2022, desires to place up a improved present than Sreeja at the occasion – at the very least a handful of wins – to save herself from being displaced from the selection uno place.

The early exit would mean losing a excellent chunk of details for Manika as her details gained from 2023 will expire on Could 28.

For Sreeja, nonetheless, there is no this kind of compulsion as she has acquired a bigger quantity of points this 12 months, and these details strengthened her placement in the rankings.

In the ongoing WTT Champions in Incheon, Manika made a initial-spherical exit. Even with successful the opening game, she misplaced to planet no. 6 Hina Hayata in a gruelling 5-gamer. It designed things more difficult for her.

Nevertheless she will play far more tournaments in the coming months and have a possibility to safeguard her situation, this general performance at the WTT Champions will even further wreak havoc on her self esteem.

Manika initial entered the prime 50 in February 2022 and achieved a career-higher of environment no. 31 in November very last earning it the greatest-at any time rating attained by any Indian women paddler to day. But lately, she has not been in fantastic form, and her ranking has been static for a though now.

And if Manika fails to pull her socks up from now onwards, she will definitely go down the pecking buy of the Indian rankings, and Sreeja will reward from it. Acknowledging her rise, the sports activities ministry this week also authorised Sreeja’s proposal to educate in Chinese Taipei sparring with top community gamers as component of her preparations for the Paris Olympics.

But when Sreeja has unique glory to obtain, and that would put her in a sturdy location to compete in the women’s singles function at the Paris Olympics, Manika’s poor string of form is a point to be concerned for the Indian table tennis fraternity as she is 1 of the key selections for India to compete in the Online games each in the group and singles functions.

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By TFW

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