New Delhi, Dec 12 - The absence of top players such as Sharath Kamal, Soumyajit Ghosh, Anthony Amalraj and Harmeet Desai from the North Zone National Ranking Table Tennis Championships has taken the sheen off the event beginning at the Hansraj Model School here Friday.
However, the zonal meet remains important for the 500 paddlers in fray.
The absence of stars, who are competing in various leagues abroad, provides a good opportunity for the aspiring contenders, at least in the men's section, to have a shot at the title and, if not, earn valuable points to enhance their position in the ranking table.
After all, these points will count for much when their selection for various nationals, including the Senior Nationals to be held at Patna between Jan 7 and 12.
All top women paddlers, including national champion K. Shamini, Poulomi Ghatak, Manika Batra, Madhurika Patkar, Divya Deshpande, Mouma Das, Ankita Das and Mousmi Paul, to name a few, are participating in the zonals. These begin with the cadet and sub-junior events in the boys and girls sections and followed by junior, youth and senior category competitions.
The prize money up for grabs up is Rs.5.76 lakh with top eight finishers in each category sharing the spoils.
It will be the last zonal event before all the nationals that start getting underway at Ajmer, which will host the cadet and sub-junior nationals in the third week of December.
Next up will be Patna senior nationals in the first week of January followed junior and youth nationals in Guwahati Jan 15-20.
The championships, to be sponsored by Vatika and Carbon Mobiles, will have Stag equipments - while Tibhar and Nittaku balls will be used.