Part of the gold-medal winning women’s team in the 2019 Hyderabad Nationals, Kaushani Nath has since been recovering from a tennis elbow. Representing Railways Sports Promotion Board in Hyderabad, she performed well in the run-up to the final, but was rested for the summit clash.
Now match-fit, the 21-year-old from Bengal-A qualified for the women’s singles main draw by topping her group in the Senior Nationals table tennis championships here on Friday, with identical 3-0 wins over Diva Tang of Meghalaya and Kumkum Rana of Himachal Pradesh.
Former National champion Sutirtha Mukherjee endured a tough time before qualifying. After 3-0 wins over Shruti Gupta of Uttar Pradesh and Paushali Jati of ESIC, Sutirtha, an Olympian, used all her experience to outwit Koushiki Das Gupta of Bengal-A in five games, 11-6, 11-9, 11-13, 10-12, 12-10, in a must-win match.
Amrutha Pushpak of TNTTA was tied with Mayuri Chatterjee of Assam with five points. Despite losing her final group match to Neha Kumari of Bengal-B, Amrutha made it by virtue of beating Mayuri.
Forty-seven-year-old paddler Ashalata Devi Sapam of Manipur made several heads turn. Probably one of the oldest in the National championships here, Ashalata lost all her matches, but was happy to compete. Her final group match was against 21-year-old Archana Kamath against whom she lost 8-11, 6-11, 5-11. “This is my first Nationals and I’ve lost all three,” Ashalata said, walking away smiling.
Ayhika Mukherjee of RBI, Yashashwini Ghorpade of Karnataka, Krittwika Sinha Roy (PSPB), Lakshita Narang (Delhi), Madhurika Patkar, M. Nithyashree of Tamizhaga Table Tennis Association and Selena Deepti of Tamil Nadu Table Tennis Association, qualified for the main draw.
The qualification system is huge with the men’s singles consisting of 73 groups and women’s 59 groups. The toppers in each group make it to the main draw.