Goa Challengers appeared poised to make their maiden entry into the finals of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) at the end of the second game with the scoreline reading 5-1. Mathematically, Goa needed to win three more games and Chennai Lions seven.
Instead, when Goa’s Archana Kamath stepped in for the last game both teams needed to win two games from the last three, to make it to the finals. Archana won the first and it was the last game Goa was to win in its first year in UTT.
“I really wanted to win the game for my team. The pressure was on both of us. It was tough but in the end my opponent won and I really felt bad for myself and for my team. I knew my teammates were all looking up to me. There was no pressure from them on me. I wanted to do it because winning – on that day – was not winning for my team, but my family. Being with Goa Challengers felt like family,” Archana Kamath told The Navhind Times before boarding her flight to Bulgaria, for another tournament.
“It was heartbreaking for all of us,” was how she described the feelings after Goa gave away a Tie that was within its grasp.
“I have a long way ahead for myself. I have a lot to improve upon and my focus after UTT will be to improve my game. I need to improve technically, on my fitness, on my speed. I need all round improvement and will be focusing on that now,” claimed Archana when asked to detail her future plans.
To be amongst the best at nineteen is not an easy task in a pool where the current flows with little routine. Archana has through UTT demonstrated a will and ability to make the impossible, possible. If Goa was still in sight of qualifying for the finals, after surrendering the lead, it was because Archana played the final tie. She started by winning the first game, surrendering the second and almost making a comeback in the last. But, many times, good things need to come to an end.
“My senior players are very experienced and I look up to them to improve my own game. I cannot have the experience that they have but I always learn from them. I look up to them as players who can be part of my growth process,” thinks Archana whose climb to the top is laced with humility.
“We had the capability of reaching the finals and that is why the loss was so gut wrenching,” recollects Archana.
“I do train with a foreign coach some times. I do not have a foreign coach exclusively for myself. In the end, I do not think it makes much of a difference if the coach is foreign or Indian because I look at a coach as a person who can give me inputs to improve my game. I welcome inputs from anywhere which will help me improve. Training is about improvement,” believes Archana.
“After the tournament in Bulgaria, I go to Czechoslovakia for another Open and then I return and start training for the Asian Cup in September. It is my aim to be part of the Indian team for the Olympics next year but I have to work a lot because qualifications for that are not easy. I hope to be part of Goa Challengers next season because the owner Mr Dempo and the management of Goa Challengers made us feel like a family,” concluded Archana.