Looking back on 2017: Mouma Das and Manika Batra reigned world table tennis

Indian sportswomen have been on a continuous grandeur walk on the red carpet this year. For the Indian table tennis fraternity, ITTF World Tours have never been easy. But things were very different this time in Olomouc, a city in Moravia, in the east of the Czech Republic. Mouma Das and Manika Batra, the new and heroic women’s doubles pair of India, lifted their game by several notches to reach the semi-finals for the first time at an ITTF World Tour (Major).

Manika Batra leading from the front, showcased her vintage form yet again as India got the better of top seeds Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato in the pre-quarterfinal. India pinned their hopes on the most experienced Mouma Das, who continued to prove that she is the country’s one and only reigning star, ‘the lioness’ in the discipline. Das along with the 21-year-old Batra, put up a fantastic show in the Round of 8 to get the better of Germany’s Chantal Mantz and Yuan Wan.

Batra and Das made a positive start in the semi-final against Polina Mikhailova and Maria Dolgikh, taking the first set 11-8. However, the Russian duo came back strongly in the match to win the next three sets, thus ensuring their passage in the finals.

This was Manika and Mouma’s second competition together. They had reached the quarter-finals of the Bulgaria Open as well.

So, Manika and Mouma had become the first Indian doubles pair to reach last eight after getting a walkover in the round of 16 at the World Table Tennis Championships. They lost to Chinese duo Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen in the women’s doubles quarterfinals this June, 2017.

So, the dream run of Batra and Das in the World Table Tennis Championships ended with a humble yet prestigious loss against the mighty Chinese duo Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen in the women’s doubles quarterfinals on 2nd June, 2017. The number one and two Chinese players, who are seeded fourth with direct entry in the main draw, won 11-7, 11-7, 11-1, 11-3 to enter the semi-finals.

Manika and Mouma had become the first Indian doubles pair to reach last eight after getting a walkover in the round of 16. ‘We did our best and are elated to have entered the quarterfinals. We got a bit lucky yesterday but combined really well to reach this important stage,’ said Mouma, who with 16 appearances, is the first Asian to register most number of appearances at World Championships.

At 33, Mouma may have played her last worlds (individuals), but it was a big achievement for the diminutive player from Kolkata to have sustained for so long, since her first World Championships appearance in Manchester, way back in 1997. Out of 16 appearances so far, she has participated in individual competitions on eight occasions.

The two reigning women tennis players gave India yet another proud moment and earmark its history of sports. They truly are the duo lioness of India in table tennis.