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Table Tennis

TT couple Harmeet Desai, Krittwika Sinha Roy take lessons from Gita to move on from Asiad snub

Husband-wife duo Harmeet Desai and Kritwika Sinha Roy were part of the Goa Challengers' UTT title win on Sunday. But in the backdrop loomed the Asian Games singles snub for Harmeet, India's current number 1.

TT couple Harmeet Desai, Krittwika Sinha Roy take lessons from Gita to move on from Asiad snub

Harmeet Desai and Krittwika Sinha Roy at the Ultimate Table Tennis league (RevSportz)


Dipankar Lahiri

Updated: 1 Aug 2023 2:42 PM GMT

Pune: Even within the plot of underdogs Goa Challengers upsetting the Achanta Sharath Kamal-led Chennai Lions to win the UTT 2023 final on Sunday, there was a fairytale subplot. Husband and wife duo Harmeet Desai and Krittwika Sinha Roy, who were sitting in the back row of the Goa bench as Reeth Rishya played the final tense game, gave each other a brief look as the final point was won before jumping over the boards to rush into the celebratory circle formed around Reeth.

Harmeet Desai, who has overtaken Sharath Kamal to being the top-ranked Indian in the ITTF rankings for the first time in his career during the UTT, said this season of the table tennis league has been unforgettable.

"This was a special UTT season for us. This was my first final, she was in her second UTT final, after the 2019 one. We are really happy with how the last three weeks have gone for us," Harmeet told The Bridge.

Krittwika, who has been married to Harmeet for the last two years, after a relationship of 10 years, said, "Last season, I was in Reeth’s place. I was playing against Sutirtha (Mukherjee) and it was a golden point at 7-7. I know how nerve wracking it is to be in that spot. I am proud of Reeth for performing under pressure in her first season."

Both of them had been part of the last UTT season in 2019, but on different teams - Harmeet for Puneri Paltan, Krittwika for Dabang Delhi.

"It was a struggle playing against each other last season. Cheering for other players against her is not easy, this time that mental battle wasn’t there. She has been there for me in crucial moments in matches. I always look to her for advice," said Harmeet.

Krittwika, the more expressive of the two and also the more philosophical, said, "Last season we were not married, and you have to accept it as part of the game. You have to be loyal to your team. It’s okay, it’s fine."

Asian Games snub

Harmeet was one of the top players in the 2023 UTT as Goa went on a giant-killing run dispatching Sathiyan Gnanasekaran's Delhi in the semifinals and Sharath Kamal's Chennai in the final, but one crucial question loomed in the backdrop - how was he dealing with the disappointment of not being fielded in the men's singles event at the Asian Games this year?

"I’ve made my feelings clear about the Asian Games selection, but I’ve moved on from it. I’m not waiting for anything to happen," Harmeet said.

READ | New India number 1 Harmeet Desai calls Asian Games selection unfair

Harmeet had never been India's numero uno before. He had reached world rank 60th in January-February 2018, but Sathiyan had been in the top 50 then.

For most of his career, he has remained largely under the radar, as Sharath and Sathiyan have carried the flag of men's table tennis. Even at the time of the Table Tennis of India (TTFI) selection committee meeting on June 27, Harmeet was ranked 71, behind Sharath (54th) and Sathiyan (60th). Accordingly, they were picked ahead of Harmeet for the singles competition as only two entries are allowed. Harmeet will only feature in team and mixed doubles events.

But since then, the tide has turned. The 30-year-old Harmeet (63rd) has overtaken Sharath (75th) and Sathiyan (90th), according to the latest ITTF rankings published on Tuesday.

Krittwika struck a stoic note on dealing with the singles snub.

"Harmeet has achieved so much in his life, it is something many others can only dream of. The Geeta teaches us that. He did the best he could, there’s nothing more to expect of him. He is hardworking, loyal, what more can he do?"

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