Friday, December 03, 2021

Sports

Payas rules the Under-17 Boys world

BALBIR SINGH | October 19, 2021 11:18 PM

PANCHKULA: Payas Jain became the second Indian to achieve the World No. 1 ranking, thanks to his title-winning performances in the Youth Under-17 Boys section in recent times. The other Indian who achieved the feat was Manav Thakkar, who became the World No. 1 in the Under-21 category in January 2020.

Incidentally, Payas is the first Delhi paddler to reach the pinnacle of the ITTF world ranking and the first youngest Indian to do so.

Payas has had to his credit three Under-17 crowns this season besides a couple of bronze medals in Under-19 in what was his first international appearance since the pandemic played havoc, bringing all activities to an abrupt halt.

Payas hit the groove with his maiden U-17 title in Slovenia in a tough final against German Tom Schweiger 3-2 in the WTT Youth Contender in Otocec. He followed it up with another crown in the second WTT Youth Contender championships in Tunis when he outclassed Tom Closset of Belgium a week later. In Tunisia, he added bronze as a bonus in the Under-19 when he lost in the semi-finals.

Carrying his form to Oman, the Delhi boy kept his vice-like grip over the age category title when he defeated Kazakhstan’s Alan Kurmangaliyev 3-2 last week. But it was not all. He ensured that he also brought home the gold in the Under-19 Boys with a 3-0 win over his Delhi rival Yashansh Malik in the final in Muscat. With this win, Payas goes five spots up in WR and is currently lying at No. 7. The second-best Indian, Yashansh, has jumped 22 places to be at 36.

Indeed, all these added to his profile. But the successive titles in Slovenia, Tunis, and Oman sealed him the top-ranking spot in the world as he upstaged Romanian Darius Movileanu, who held the position for quite some time. With Payas at 3458 points on the table, the Romanian is 90 points behind him in the second position.

Suhana Saini has been proving to be another worthy and consistent performer since she began her international campaign. The Haryana girl began her title-hunts, first winning the Under-15 Girls gold in Slovenia. Then she hopped over to Tunisia and grabbed one more gold before satiating her hunger in the WTT Youth Contender in Oman. So much so, the Haryana paddler now occupies the fourth spot in the world ranking.

Hansini, the promising girl from Chennai, has jumped several places up on the ladder to perch herself at No. 21. No doubt, in the coming years, she will be a force to reckon with in the country.

In the Under-19 Girls, Swastika Ghosh (Maharashtra) and Yashaswini Ghorpade (Karnataka) are at a striking distance of each other at No. 7 and No. 8. The Bengaluru girl, with her recent performances in Slovenia and Tunisia, jumped 12 places. Diya Chitale, who dropped two places from her previous ranking, is placed at No. 13.

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