Chennai’s Mathan Rajan Hansini won a bronze medal in her first-ever appearance at an International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) junior event after going down to Iuliia Pugovkina of Russia 12-10, 9-11, 5-11, 8-11 in the semis of the Swedish Junior and Cadet Open at Sweden.
Participating in the Mini Cadet Girl’s Singles category, the young Indian started the tournament with a couple of wins, first defeating Aleksandra Bokova 12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 3-11 in the Round of 16, before notching up a commanding 11-3, 12-10, 11-9 win over Isha Bajpai of USA in the quarters. However, she was unable to get over the line in a gruelling semis clash to win the bronze.
Coached by Muralidhara Rao, the former coach of Sharath Kamal and K Shamini, Hansini had been polishing her technique at the SDAT AKG Table Tennis Development Centre in Chennai, which is backed by Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT). The youngster had had earlier won a bronze medal in the Girl’s Singles Cadet event at the 2019 UTT National Table Tennis Championships, and has already been touted as a possible Olympic prospect in the 2028 Olympics.
The other Indian table tennis enthusiasts who impressed in the tournament were Suhana Saini, who reached the Round of 16 at Sweden in the Cadet Girl’s Singles event, while Suresh Raj Preyesh made it to the Round of 16 as well in the Cadet Boy’s Singles section.
The senior paddlers from the nation too impressed in another event to wrap up a good week for the sport with Gnanasekaran Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal winning silver at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open, being held at Budapest. The pair met 16th seeds Benedikt Duda and Patrick Franziska of Germany in the summit clash, but went down 5-11, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11 in a game that lasted 30 minutes.
Kamal also won a bronze medal in the mixed doubles event with Manika Batra.