TT Worlds: Reeth looks to find another gear
The paddler from Chennai has actively been trying to rework her game so that she can win more at the international level.
Though she didn’t medal in Birmingham last year, the experience of playing and handling pressure at a major international tournament like the Commonwealth Games will surely help Reeth Rishya Tennison at the upcoming World Table Tennis Championships – her maiden attempt at the biennial event.
The World Championships will be held in Durban from May 20 to 28. It will be the first time in 84 years that the tourney will be held on African soil after Egypt in 1939. The 11-member Indian contingent, comprising five men and six women, will leave for South Africa on May 17.
"The Commonwealth Games was my first major event. I learned a lot through the experience and expectations are on the harder side because it (Worlds) is also a bigger event. I have rectified my mistakes and I know I’ll do better in the World Championships," the 28-year-old said from Bengaluru where the national training camp for the World Championships is being held. “The world's top players will be there. I want to cause one or two upsets; that is my target.”
The paddler from Chennai has been making headlines for the last couple of years. In 2021, Reeth became the first Indian woman to win a Pro Tour singles title when she claimed the Ecuador Open. Last year, she made the cut for the Commonwealth Games while this year Reeth won the women’s singles title at the Petroleum inter-unit tournament in April – which comprised almost all top players of the country – before qualifying for her first-ever World Championships.
To prepare for the major event, Reeth took time off the international calendar to train in Hyderabad with her personal coach Aman Balgu before joining the camp in Bengaluru around a month back. During this period, world No.176 laid special emphasis on her fitness.
"I have been working on my diet in recent times. I need to reduce some kgs to be real quick on the table and have been working on it with my nutritionist and fitness trainer. In another in 3-4 days, I can make it to my peak where I can just push myself," said Reeth, who is married to two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and fellow paddler Sanil Shetty.
"I have also been working on my techniques like I need to need to stay close to the table, brushing more balls and be consistent instead of going powerful; that used to be my game but now I am playing more consistently.”
Reeth has been spending hours discussing her game with coach Balgu. She has also been working with German coach Chris Pfeiffer and domestic coaches Mamta Prabhu and Subhajit Saha at the camp.
“Previously, I used to stand a little away from the table, play topspin and lose the ball. It used to work in Indian conditions at certain times but now it is not working for me. I need to develop for the international level too so I need to push two times ahead. Hence, I need to stay close to the table as it is more effective. I am also working on my feet (movement) so staying close to the table won’t matter if I improve my feet (movement)," said Reeth.
After the World Championships Reeth will be playing in the domestic zonal tournament in Cuttack in June following which she will be playing four Pro Tour tournaments in Nigeria, Tunisia, Slovenia and Slovakia. She will return home to participate in her maiden Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) -- India's franchise-based professional league.
“It is going to be a very hectic season. While I will be playing the Pro Tour tournaments to improve my world rankings, the domestic tournaments are important for Olympic qualification. I should be there in India's top 3 to get the quota," concluded Reeth.