Another ‘Srija Akula’ from Delhi under the tutelage of a Bengali coach?

Siddhi is currently India's fourth-ranked girl in the Under-11 category.

It is hardly found in the Indian table tennis fraternity that a Bengali coach settling outside the state and establishing as a craftsman by producing paddlers of the future. 

Somnath Ghosh is such a name who settled in Hyderabad and his craftsmanship in the last 12 years has produced a paddler like Srija Akula, the gold medal-winner in the mixed doubles event of the Commonwealth Games and who stunned the World's second-ranked paddler in the women's World Team Championship last week. 

Arunava Chakrabarty can be another example in this discussion. A professional paddler in Bengal who earned prominence at the junior level left Bengal in search of fortune 10 years ago. His aim was to settle with table tennis as a coach. 

Arunava expressed thankfulness for the Dronacharya award Jayanta Pushilal. “I used to go to Narkeldanga Byam Samity often to practice. I used to watch Jayanta’s style of coaching. I guided the boys and girls before also. But I was not getting an opportunity in Bengal,” stated Arunava.

He added, “Jayanta advised me to leave Bengal and start coaching at STAG academy under Dronacharya awardee table tennis coach Sandip Gupta. I joined them in 2014 and continued till 2023.” 

Still, Arunava was not fully satisfied as he always had the dream of producing paddlers by individual effort. He finally made it possible by introducing his table tennis school Ace Achievers’ Table Tennis Academy at Ashok Vihar around in September last year. 

The venture was expensive. Arunava had to rent a sufficient space at Lotus Veda International School against an expensive amount of money. The floor is wooden and four table tennis boards have been installed now. Other infrastructural facilities are also there including a physical trainer for the academy. 

Arunava has only 12 students now between the ages of five to 10 years. Out of these 12 students, only a few were learning the basics of the game under Arunava for the last four to five years. 

Chakrabarty divulged, "My dream is to produce players who would be able to don India shirts in the future. That is why I have decided not to increase the number of students. Siddhi Singh is one of them who can fulfill his teacher's dream after a couple of years.

Siddhi is currently India's fourth-ranked girl in the Under-11 category. Chakrabarty when asked about her prospect, divulged, “She has been learning the game since 2019. It is not that she was talented. But she is extremely hard-working, can train for five hours every day."

Chakrabarty also added, “She has been second-ranked paddler in Delhi since 2022-23. But playing for the first time out of Delhi last year in the national ranking zone competitions Siddhi had an impressive performance." 

Siddhi reached the semi-finals in two national ranking zone championships in Hyderabad and Kerala, respectively in the Under-11 category and then reached the final in the third zone championship in Vijaywada. 

Chakrabarty sounded optimistic concluding, "I believe if she can continue her hard work then Siddhi will shine also in the senior level.” 

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