Manav Thakkar redefines his game in new phase of his career

Although a top competitor, Manav Thakkar was unable to win the national table tennis ranking championships in 2021. Last month, after losing a final to Sanil Shetty in Dehradun, the Indian No.5 lost to Arjun Ghosh during the last 16 in Pondicherry.

It turns out that Thakkar tried to add new elements to his game without allowing him to affect his balance or diminish his advantage. And despite great results – he won the bronze medal in doubles at the Asian Table Tennis Championships and qualified for the round of 16 at the World Table Tennis Contender in Budapest – he admits there are had hiccups.

“I’ve had a few bad losses this year as well, maybe because I was changing my style a bit,” Thakkar said. Sports star on the phone from Indore, where he is preparing for the national ranking table tennis championships (central zone), which will start on January 3.

“I couldn’t manage my game well when trying new things. I would be confused – should I continue in my old style or should I play differently. And because of that, I wasn’t getting the right connection (sic), ”he said.

Strength and attack

The difficult journey to becoming a more powerful player began with his move to Sonepat, near Delhi, to train under the guidance of a new coach and support staff. Driven by his desire to stay enrolled in a professional academy after leaving Ajmer, Thakkar analyzed his game and focused on two main areas – adding a new dimension to his counterattacking game and correcting his posture.

He began to rely more on his legs for his bent posture while playing and worked on gaining strength in his legs, core and arms to generate more power. And he started to attack more.

“Earlier I let my opponent attack and then play my own game. I keep doing this because it’s my strength, but at the same time I can surprise my opponent by doing my own attacks, by hitting strong punches. But with the arrival of the powerful blows, I also miss my negative points several times. While I need to manage well; every time I attack there should be fewer mistakes and more surprises for the opponent, no surprises for me in terms of mistakes, ”he explained.

Thakkar was the No.1 U-21 player in 2019, and for a player used to playing games endlessly, he has had to face a tough time lately as he has stopped playing age group tournaments. .

“Even though I was losing confidence in senior tournaments, I would play U-21 games and win them and gain confidence. But now it’s not like that, every time I play senior, you lose two or three matches, you lose confidence in yourself. It was a very difficult time for me because I was not expecting it (sic). Now I am able to cope with this because it is very important.

Emphasizing the advantages of this new situation, he said: “I can now plan my training with my coach, I can plan my schedule, and work on my weak points, then play the games. Once I focus on the process and not the outcome, then it becomes easier for me to gain confidence in myself.

To further elevate his game, Thakkar joined the Bundesliga – the German Table Tennis League – in 2021 but was unable to play a single match due to the pandemic. Now he hopes he can get there this year before his visa expires in a few months.

Before that, however, he hopes to wear his good form from the PSPB Inter-Unit Tournament – he beat Anthony Amalraj, G. Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai en route to the Singles title – at the National Ranking Championships and then at the 83 Inter- National Championships. State in Shillong later this month, a tournament he nearly won in 2019 when he lost the final 4-3 to Harmeet Desai.

Thakkar, who also spends time with his mentor Sharath Kamal in Chennai when not training in Sonepat, hopes to win medals in mega-events – the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Championships – this year. Describing his personal goals, he said: “I want to improve my ranking in the senior category (currently 133). I want to climb into the top 100 or even the top 80 in the coming year, and by 2024 or 2025 I want to reach the top 20 or the top 10. “

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