Manika Batra axed for Asian meet amid feud with TT body
The feud between India women’s No. 1 Manika Batra and the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) took a turn for the worse with her omission on Wednesday from the team for the Asian championships to be held in Doha, Qatar from September 28-Oct 5.
Batra, world No. 56 and ranked way ahead of her teammates—fellow Tokyo Olympics participant Sutirtha Mukherjee, the next best Indian player, is No. 97—did not attend the ongoing national camp, which the federation had said was mandatory for selection.
The Delhi player has been training in Pune with her personal coach Sanmay Paranjape, having informed TTFI she will not join the national camp. The other women players chosen are Sreeja Akula, Ayhika Mukherjee and Archana Kamath.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games champion’s run-in with TTFI began after she refused to have national coach Soumyadeep Roy in her corner at the Olympics, after her personal coach’s accreditation did not allow him to enter “the field of play”. Batra reached the third round in Tokyo with no coach courtside.
TTFI subsequently sought her explanation, calling it an ‘act of indiscipline.’ Batra alleged that Roy put pressure on her during the Olympic qualification event to lose to his “student” (Sutirta Mukherjee) to help her qualify. A federation panel is enquiring into the issue.
Indian table tennis great Kamlesh Mehta, who is now director of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), called for the issue to be sorted out. “As a former player, I can say that table tennis has been looking up in India for the last few years. Any such issues should be resolved at the earliest for the betterment of the game,” Mehta said.
Batra recently won the mixed doubles at the WTT Contender event in Budapest partnering G Sathiyan.
There was tension even in the build-up to the Olympics. Batra joined the pre-Olympics camp in Sonepat only for a few days after her personal coach was allowed. Sathiyan trained in Chennai under his personal coach. TTFI has since then made attending the camp mandatory for national selection.
TTFI’s circular released in August says, “any player chosen for the national camp must attend it without fail, from day one till the end of the camp. Only the players that are part of the national camp before a specific tournament will be considered for selection into the national team or represent India. No player can expect any relief or leniency against attending the national camp, save for medical grounds.”