Sharath in a spin!

Updated: Mar 31, 2020, 07:39 IST | Subodh Mayure | Mumbai

Indian TT stalwart, who won the Oman Open Challenger recently, disappointed as ITTF decides to freeze rankings for March due to Coronavuirus pandemic.

Sharath Kamal with his daughter Suyasha (left) and son Teja at home in Chennai
Sharath Kamal with his daughter Suyasha (left) and son Teja at home in Chennai

The International Table Tennis Federation's (ITTF) decision on Monday to freeze all players' rankings for March has stumped India veteran Sharath Kamal, who recently clinched the Oman Open title. The ITTF, having suspended all events till June 30, decided to freeze the rankings given the disruption due to global Coronavirus pandemic.

Wait and watch
Locked down at his home in Chennai, Sharath is now keen to know what effect this call will have on his world ranking which should have risen after his triumph in Muscat. "We need to have more clarity on the freezing of the points. After winning the Oman Open, I thought I could get into the top 30, but now I have to wait and see how things are going to pan out," Sharath, ranked 38, told mid-day over the phone.

The ITTF will be meeting again next month to take a decision on the rankings and to plan its tournament schedule.

Sharath Kamal
Sharath Kamal

Sharath, who won his maiden Challenger crown, beating Portugal's top seed Marcos Freitas in the Oman Open final, said his decision to play in the tournament was a calculated risk. "It was a calculated risk because when I went to Oman, the Olympics qualifiers were still scheduled in April. I wanted some match practice and check out something that I had worked on and gain more confidence. The other reason was that I could make some points which would help me break into the top 30. Now, if the points are not going to be considered, then it's a bad decision," said Sharath, 37.

Home quarantine
Since his return from Muscat, Sharath has been in isolation at his home. "I have been in quarantine. I haven't moved out of my house. I have been in a lot of stress since the day I returned [to Chennai], fearing that I shouldn't be the one spreading the virus," he said.

Sharath has been completely cut off from TT for now as he enjoys spending some quality time with his family. "I am playing football and running behind my son Tejas's [three] bicycle. I am also doing some art and craft and other activities with my daughter Suyasha, nine. It's a wonderful feeling to be spending time with your kids," Sharath concluded.

Mehta welcomes ITTF's decision

Kamlesh Mehta

Olympian Kamlesh Mehta, 59, welcomed the ITTF's decision to suspend all events for now due to Coronavirus pandemic. "It was necessary to take some drastic calls. I am happy that they have taken prompt action," eight-time national champion Mehta told mid-day. However, he preferred to wait for further clarification on ITTF's call to freeze ranking points for March.

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