Goa Challengers proved against Mavericks Kolkata on Saturday that Goa is capable of raising the bar against Kolkata even in table tennis after Archana Kamath shocked India’s best Manika Batra in straight sets and the rest of her teammates went on emulating the benchmark set by her.
Goa Challengers has the best start in Ultimate Table Tennis – the only team to win 5-0 – in comparison to other teams and what has started as a song may well see emotions shifting from New Delhi to Goa and vice versa.
“Tomorrow is another day. We started very well in the first game but I expect the game to be more difficult against Chennai because they are a stronger team. Our team was in good shape in the first game and the trick is to maintain the shape,” Goa Challengers coach Bettine Vriesekoop told The Navhind Times over the phone.
Goa Challengers smashed their way past Mavericks Kolkata after the onslaught by nineteen-year-old Archana Kamath against India’s best female player Manika Batra. The first win set the tone for a memorable evening and coach Bettine expects the team to continue the same rhythm.
“The draw will be known tomorrow. But the important thing is to be able to win the first two matches. It becomes easier afterwards. If we get a similar draw, the chances will be better because from all the players, Archana has caught my eye the most,” explained Bettine.
“If one wants to reach the highest level in any sport, one must be in the best shape. It is not just about one or two players but the entire team. I have been working on keeping all mentally and physically prepared,” confessed Bettine whilst explaining the team’s preparedness for today’s match.
“The first match will be very important for us today,” she added.
“I have been greatly impressed by Archana. She played beyond my expectation and shows great strength and character. She has a gentle strength that infuses a spirit of solidity in the team and it is nice because such an attitude is being shown by a nineteen-year-old girl,” quipped Bettine when asked to elaborate on the strong points of Goa Challengers.
“Archana has great oversight of the game in hand. She calculates gently and knows what to do in a match situation. She thinks very fast and is capable of reading the game fast too,” observed Bettine.
“I hope people in Goa are enjoying the performance of the team and I hope the players of the team will be an inspiration to paddlers in Goa. The support of fans goes a long way in helping the pursuits of a team,” observed the coach.
“Goa Challengers has a chance of bringing the title to Goa on their debut. The team consists of some of the best players in the tournament. Their first four players are very good,” predicted Vero Nunes, president of Goa Table Tennis Association (GTTA).
“The presence of a team from Goa will draw our youngsters to watch the game on television. Goa has the highest level of players up to the sub junior level. It crashes after that. This is happening because we have no infrastructure to train players for the next stage,” lamented Vero.