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Coach Mamta Prabhu praises table tennis duo Sutirtha Mukherjee-Ayhika Mukherjee

Updated on: 29 June,2023 07:31 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Subodh Mayure |

India table tennis coach Mamta Prabhu hails women’s doubles pair of Sutirtha and Ayhika on their first gold medal-winning feat at prestigious World Table Tennis Contender in Tunisia

Coach Mamta Prabhu praises table tennis duo Sutirtha Mukherjee-Ayhika Mukherjee

India’s WTT Contender gold medallists Sutirtha Mukherjee (left) and Ayhika Mukherjee (right) with coach Mamta Prabhu in Tunisia recently

The coach of the India’s table tennis team, Mamta Prabhu, believes the three medals won at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender in Tunisia recently is a “special feat.” Prabhu, a 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games silver medalist, stressed that it’s always a tough task to beat Chinese, Korean and Japanese players.

India’s women’s doubles pair of Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee won the gold medal outclassing the Japanese pair of Miyuu Kihara and Miwa Harimoto by 3-1 (11-5, 11-6, 5-11, 13-11) in the final, while India’s men’s pair of Manav Thakkar and Manush Shah, and mixed doubles pair of Manika Batra and G Sathiyan settled for a bronze medal each after losing their respective semi-finals. Prabhu had special praise for Sutirtha and Ayhika, who she felt helped each other to win the gold medal despite having different challenges and a distinct style of play. 

“We knew these girls were a good combination, but we never expected them to win a gold medal so soon. This is very special for them as this is their [Sutirtha and Ayhika] first gold medal. Ayhika has been a runner-up before [at Kathmandu South Asian Games in 2019].

Clear mind is key

“I had to clear her doubts and assure her that she is good enough to win gold this time. The girls form a good combination. Sutirtha is very powerful and attacks on both flanks while Ayhika plays more tactically. We had planned a few strategies and the girls were confident to try out new things when it came to crucial moments,” Prabhu told mid-day from Tunisia.

When asked how she helped them overcome their doubts before the decider, Prabhu said: “In such close games, it’s important to keep a clear mind. Even in the semi-final against the Koreans [Shin Yubin and Jeon Jihi] we were 2-1 up and then in the fourth game we messed up. We were leading 2-0 in the final, but lost the third game and in the fourth game we were down 4-10. I had to force the players to take a different route to create some surprises. We even took a time out at 10-9 in the fourth game and forced Ayhika to follow a small change in plan. Both girls did it confidently and that helped us seal the match.”

Manika-Sathiyan get bronze

Speaking about the bronze medal wins, Prabhu admitted that there were a lot of expectations from Manika and Sathiyan. “We were confident about Manika and Sathiyan as they have a lot of experience. But Manush and Manav have started playing together only recently at the senior international level. The same goes for Sutirtha and Ayhika.  Manika and Sathiyan are an experienced pair and are playing well, but at this level, you need to keep developing your skill set and tactics. It’s very important to play and train regularly for doubles, just like in singles and make tactical changes accordingly,” concluded Prabhu,  a Bank of Baroda employee.

Also Read: Ultimate Table Tennis schedule announced, Chennai Lions, Puneri Paltan to play in opener

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