Goa, 27th February, 2023: As India scripted history by hosting its first ever World Table Tennis (WTT) event, domestic and international stars of the game lauded efforts made by the hosts Stupa Sports Analytics and WTT to bring the WTT Star Contender Goa to the country. The tournament, which commenced with its day one qualifiers on Monday at the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor stadium, is set to gather momentum with the main draw beginning on 1st March, 2023.
The inaugural press conference saw the likes of home favorites Manika Batra, Sathiyan Gnansekaran and Sreeja Akula along with international players Lian Jingkun (Men’s Singles World #7) and Lily Zang (Women’s Single World #27) in attendance.
India’s top paddler and World #34, Manika Batra said, “I am really happy that this tournament is happening for the first time in India. It’s a big tournament and I am really excited that our home fans will come to cheer for us and I am excited to take my friends out and show them a bit of India. So, really happy and excited for that.”
Sathiyan Gnansekaran who is going to participate in all three events in the tournament said, “It is a great moment for all of us and in making India a Table Tennis destination- to have such a big event here is a very special feeling. I have travelled across the world, but to play in your home country is always very special. We are super excited to represent the tricolor and I am sure there will be a lot of people who will come and support us and we will be giving our best to take Indian Table Tennis to the next level. Congrats to the entire team for pulling up such a massive event. It looks really nice and hope lot of Indian supporters will come out to cheer us.”
Sreeja who came to the limelight post her Mixed Doubles gold win at the CWG22, is thrilled to play at home to which she said, “I am very happy and excited to participate in a Star Contender event here in Goa. I am looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd and I think its going to be very helpful, not only for the participants but also for those who come and watch the matches. We can take great learnings from this tournament and I am looking forward to this tournament.
On the contrary, the international players are super excited to come to India, some for the first time.
World #7 Liang Jingkun commented on his mindset for the tournament and said “I am really glad to be here and I am looking forward to play the matches and win.”
American Lily Zang, who has previously played in India in youth tournaments said, “I am very excited to be in India. I have been here a few times in the past for previous tournaments. I have had such a great experience here. I feel like people here are very warm and welcoming and I see that Table Tennis is rapidly growing in India thanks to players like Manika, Sathiyan and Sreeja. So, I think it’s just really good to see that and I looking forward to the competition.”
Top ranked players from across the world are set to compete to claim the title of being the first champion of an Indian WTT event. Men’s single World #1 – Fan Zhendong and Women’s Single World #4 Wang Yidi enter as the top seeds in the tournament. While Manika Batra and Sathiyan G enter as top Indian seeds on their home turf.