India's table tennis contingent ready for the challenge

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Pune, Oct 12 (UNI) The Indian table tennis contingent will depend heavily on Olympian Neha Aggarwal for a couple of gold medals but Divya Deshpande and Pooja Sahastrabudhe will have the local crowd behind them as they aim to produce a few surprises at the Commonwealth Youth Games which get underway here today.

''I am confident that we will win two gold medals in both girls' singles and doubles events,''Table Tennis Fedration of India (TTFI) secretary general Dhanraj Choudhary told UNI here today.

''A couple of medals are also on the cards as Divya and Pooja have been preparing well and are very much capable to defeat even the best of players on their day,'' he added.

However, his optimism is purely on top seed Neha's participation in both the events where the Delhi girl will team up with Soumi Mondal in the doubles event.

Neha has been given the top billing in both the singles and the doubles event in which she will partner Kolkata girl Mondal.

Mondal can not be taken lightly at all on any day and it was for her great run that she was awarded the second seed in the singles and the Bengali assured that she put her best foot forward when the competition actually begins.

''I have been practicing for long hours and it all depends on whether I can play the same way at the competition also. But I will make the best efforts that I possibly can,'' Mondal said.

Choudhary said a medal is an assurity with Neha's participation in two events and added that what remains to be seen is whether the Olympian is able to take the pole position or not.

''I think she is in good form and the training camp at Ajmer has helped not only her but also to other players who have been motivated a lot with her presence,'' Choudhary added.

The chances for a top finish in the boy's category look bleak for India as the England and Canadian teams will start favourites.

Soumyajot Ghosh, who has been seeded sixth, will spearhead the Indian challenge in singles and if a medal can be expected in singles from the boys, it has to be from him.

India's four-member boy's team will feature Soumyajot Ghosh, who is the highest seeded Indian, Sathiyan Ganesekharan, Raj Mondal and Subham Sharma.

In the boys category, Mondal and Sharma have been seeded fourth but the duo will have to play exceptionally well so as to come good against the players from Canada and England who have been given the top two seedings.

Though Neha is bound to attract the limelight, other paddlers, according to Choudhary, have great potential to add to the medals tally.

''Yes, we have the best possible combination for singles and doubles and practice has been absolutely fine. We can definitely expect to get a couple of medals if not more than that.'' Local girls Divya Deshpande and Pooja Shastrabudhe will form the other pair in the doubles and with the crowd right behingd them one can hope for a spirited performance from them.

The first round matches of the table tennis will begin tomorrow.

UNI RAR AB BD1328

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