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Pune paddler Divya Deshpande battles her way through Ultimate Table Tennis to be in India’s top four

 Divya started her national level title spree in 2003, winning the sub-junior national title in Baroda. At the international level, she tasted her first success in 2004 at the UAE International Open Championship in Dubai, where she won double’s bronze

pune Updated: Jun 15, 2018 17:26 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,paddler,divya
Divya Despande.(HT PHOTO)

Pune-born paddler Divya Deshpande was always amongst the top players in the country. However, her performance took a dip after her silver medal in Commonwealth Championship in 2016.

The 28-year-old is now clawing her way back into the Indian team and feel that the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) platform will be a big boost ahead of 2018 season.

“Last year I had missed the opportunity to be a part of the league. I was little disappointed and was eagerly waiting for the second season. Fortunately I got a chance to prove my capabilities. This league will be a big boost for me ahead of the national-ranking season starting from August,” said Divya, who will play for Empowerji Challengers in the UTT.

The Challengers will face RP-SG Mavericks in their opening match on Friday.

“My focus is to contribute as much as I can for my team. The format of the league is different and winning games is more important than winning the match, so I will give my best to win the games,” she said.

Though Divya wasn’t part of the inaugural edition of UTT, she was part of the Top Spinners team which won Mumbai Super League last year.

“The format of both leagues is quite similar, so it won’t be difficult to get adjusted with the league format in UTT,” said Divya.

Divya started her national level title spree in 2003, winning the sub-junior national title in Baroda. At the international level, she tasted her first success in 2004 at the UAE International Open Championship in Dubai, where she won double’s bronze.

She also won bronze medals at South Asia Cup in Delhi and World Junior Circuit in Canada, followed by a gold at the UAE World Junior Open in 2005.

In 2014, she was a member of the Indian squad that won the gold medal in Iran.In 2015, she shifted her base to Mumbai and later on fetched a silver medal at the Commonwealth Championship held in Surat in 2016.

However, she experienced a downturn in her performance and her national ranking also dropped down to 11 from six in 2017. She bounced back quickly and is currently ranked sixth in India.

“My aim is to get into top four, which will give me an opportunity to be part of Indian team for some big tournaments, like the Asian and Commonwealth games. Of course, that’s not easy, the players like Manika, Pooja and Mouma are doing a fantastic job at the international level and I need to work hard to break into the top four,” said Divya.

“My main target is to improve my world ranking and simultaneously perform well at national level. I need to be more consistent. Last year, my game improved a lot. This time I wanted to maintain that graph right from the beginning. I know there is a stiff competition out there, but I feel everybody is on the same page in terms of technique and experience. It all depends who performs better on that particular day,” added Divya.

First Published: Jun 15, 2018 17:25 IST