Goa has taken challenge in Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) to another height through nineteen-year-old Archana Kamath, who has elements of a prodigy in her. Having won five games in two ties, Goa Challengers hopes ride on the girl from Konkan as they attempt to inch to the top slot of the table after their match against Dabang Delhi today.
Goa Challengers will start their match against Dabang Delhi with two advantages — statistical and player profile.
Statistically, Goa is the only team in UTT 3 to have finished a tie 11-4. Mavericks Kolkata who were the victims of Goa’s assault meted the same treatment to Puneri Paltan on Tuesday. The rest of the teams either finished winning eight or nine games in a tie. And, Goa recorded the feat on their debut match.
Archana set the tone with a blitzkrieg against India’s best Manika Batra and is till date the only player to have won five games out of the six she has played. The closest woman player to her is Doo Hoi Kem from Hong Kong, ranked ninth in the world.
“Manika Batra wins easily against foreign players because she flicks the bat whilst playing and it makes it difficult for the opponent to know with which surface she is going to strike the ball. Indian players are aware of Manika’s style,” Vero Nuno, president of Goa Table Tennis Association (GTTA) claimed after Goa’s first win. The tune has changed after Goa’s second win. “Archana is playing amazing table tennis. She played an incredible game,” claimed Vero after Goa narrowly lost to Chennai Lions.
“Archana has something extraordinary in her. She has really taken me by surprise. Her grit, her assessment, her reactions make her my favourite in the team,” Goa Challengers coach Bettine Vriesekoop told The Navhind Times.
Goa Challengers match against Delhi will begin their third tie in UTT having won eighteen games and seven matches. Delhi Dabang, on the other hand, are fourth on the table winning sixteen games and five matches.
Goa Challengers will start as favourites with the focus being on Archana and women World No 8 Cheng I-Ching, who has been the other constant sustainable feature of Goa Challengers. The two of them have won nine games for Goa Challengers.
Goa Challenger captain Anthony Amalraj and Alvaro Robles have both won three out of the six matches they have played and despite having differing styles of play, they are capable of upsetting the opponent’s apple cart when called to do so.
If Archana has lit the fire for Goa, Cheng is making sure it is burning brightly. The intensity of the fire will be witnessed today against Delhi Dabang.