‘Strategising for every game proving beneficial’

Manika Batra feels changing her approach and chalking out comprehensive strategies for each match has helped in improving her game as she gears up for the upcoming Asian Games and next year’s Olympics.
Batra will be one of India’s biggest hopes in table tennis when the Indian contingent flies out to Hangzhou for the Asian Games this September, and according to her mixed doubles partner G. Sathiyan, a medal in the Olympics can be expected from the pair.
The 28-year-old Batra, who won the bronze medal in Asian Cup last November, says that her game has gone through changes while working alongside her coach Aman Balgu.
“The role of a coach is very important. Aman has been a great mentor and coach, he has been travelling with me and would do a lot of strategising.
“Earlier, I would not be much into strategising but nowadays we strategise before every match and game. I think that is really helping me,” Batra said on the sidelines of the jersey launch for Ultimate Table Tennis team Bengaluru Smashers.
Batra had hired the services of Aman Balgu after a disappointing campaign at the 2022 Commonwealth Games where he failed to win any medal.
“(On the court) if I see how he fights for me or how he cheers for me, that really motivates me in every match and point,” said Batra, who had won four medals in 2018 Commonwealth Games including gold in women’s singles.
“The support of a coach is really important, which is helping me and we are working on a few things on the table: my backing, variation with the pimple (rubber) and of course on attack … just keep on working hard.” Batra, a recipient of Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award, said she is working on both physical and mental aspect, but becoming the first Indian to win a medal in the Asian Cup also bolstered her confidence.
“We both are really working hard and of course there are many things on which we are focussing right now, on and off the table. We are focussing on the physical and mental aspects and on-table (matters).
“Mentally, my confidence has got a boost after the Asian Cup and winning the bronze medal,” she said.
Batra, who is currently ranked world No 35, said her aim is to keep moving up in the rankings table for women’s singles players.
“I am really happy with my performance, but of course, not satisfied because I have to win more medals, I have to improve my ranking, which is to get into the top 20 and then into top 10.
“Until that does not happen, I will not be satisfied, but at the same time I am happy to win against some great, top-ranked players.” Batra, who was retained by Benglauru Smashers, will play her first game in the Ultimate Table Tennis on Friday when her side takes on U Mumba. Talking about the Indian squad for the Asian Games, Batra said: “We have a great team. We have Ayhika (Mukherjee), Sutirtha (Mukherjee), Diya (Chitale), me and Sreeja (Akula), we have a great mix in the team,” she said.
“There are young players in the squad, which will make it very exciting to play with them in the Asian Games. Like I always say in every tournament, I will give my best from my side and of course, the full team’s support will be there for all players.”