New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) The Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) teams have received top billing in all the four sections — men, women, youth boys and youth girls — at the 45th All-India Inter-Institutional Table Tennis Championships to be held at the Thyagraj Stadium here from July 28 to August 2.
The men’s team of the Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) has grimly held on to the second spot during the draw taken out on Saturday, according to a release on Sunday. They finished runners-up in the last edition, also held here.
In women’s team event, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) are seeded second, followed by RSPB and Air India, the semi-finalists last year, occupying the top places in groups C and D, respectively.
In all, 20 men’s and 15 women’s teams will be vying for top honours in the six-day event. In comparison, the youth boys section has five teams and the youth girls one less, forcing the competitions to be a round-robin league affair.
The championships, which are the season opener and the second-most important event after the national championships in India’s calendar, got a boost when the Railways agreed to sponsor the event wholesome.
As in the past, the championships will yet again see country’s top paddlers, except world No.40 Achanta Sharath Kamal, competing for team and individual glory.
With 20 institutions having entered the championships in the men’s section, they have been divided into six groups and 15 of the women’s squads drawn in four groups in the first stage of the tournament. Only two teams from each group will qualify for the second stage.
No doubt, the PSPB women have a distinct advantage as group A comprises just three teams while the other groups have four teams each. But the benefit has been bestowed on PSPB for being the champion team.
Apart from the second best points that the players get from the Institutional championships, the event also throws up the opportunity to two teams in each section to gain direct entry in the Senior Nationals and one team in each category in the Youth Nationals.
The individual events which follow the team championships will also see participation of players from different states making it a tough competition for all the paddlers.
The championships carry a prize purse, Rs.3.32 lakh and it will be shared by the top eight singles players across all sections, with singles winner in the men’s and women’s sections receiving Rs.75,000 and Rs.58,000, respectively.