CHENNAI: Imagine being born with a hole in your heart, with doctors saying you only have eight months to live. Falcons TTC star Sanil Shetty was born with an abnormal heart condition in 1989. Overcoming adversities, he has started making a name for himself. The 27-year-old could not play any sports till was he was five. Homeopathic medicine helped. Born in a family of table tennis players, Sanil did not get into the sport till he was nine.
“My father used to play for his office while my brother (Sachin Shetty) has played at the national level, even going on to coach India juniors. I guess the passion ran in my blood,” he said.
At Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here on Sunday, Sanil lost his opening rubber against World No 14 Marcos Freitas. He came back strongly to win the mixed doubles with Lee Ho Ching. However, G Sathiyan’s victory over Par Gerell turned the tie in the favour of Dabang Smashers, who won 14-13.
Coming in to the UTT on the back of good showing in 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Australia Open, Sanil feels the league will help him improve. “Not everyday do you get to play with and against the best. Even the training is intense. When you are not practising or playing, you can learn just by looking at the likes of Par Gerell,” Sanil said.Sanil is among a select crop of left-handed paddlers in the country. He has also been named by current national coach Massimo Costantini as one to watch out for. Even his Falcons coach Soumyadeep Roy has only good things to say about him.
“I’m trying my best to make sure I prove them right. I try and use my left-hand style to unsettle players as I can get different angles. “In India, during the nationals, it helps as most Indians are right-handed. However, currently in the world, there are more lefties. With experience, I’m sure I will improve even more,” he added.
After UTT, he will participate in the ITTF Nigeria Open, after which he will go back to Germany where he plays in the 2nd division. “Foreign exposure is vital. This league, if it continues, will provide national stars with more chance to interact with the best. Before the Australia Open, my ranking was close to 250. It will be close to 150 by the time the next list comes out. The aim is to enter the top 100. I also want to make it to the Commonwealth Games squad next year and help my country win laurels.”
Results: Dabang Smashers 14-13 Falcons TTC (Dabang names first): Marcos Freitas bt Sanil Shetty 11-5, 11-2, 11-3; Mousumi Paul lost to Wu Yang 9-11, 4-11, 7-11; G Sathiyan/Tetyana Bilenko lost to Sanil Shetty/Lee Ho Ching 8-11, 6-11, 6-11; Marcos Freitas bt Par Gerell 11-7, 11-6, 11-8; Tetyana Bilenko lost to Lee Ho Ching 11-8, 9-11, 5-11; G Sathiyan bt Par Gerell 11-7, 6-11, 11-6; Kim Song I bt Sutirtha Mukherjee 11-3, 11-4, 11-3; Kou Lei bt Arjun Ghosh 4-11, 11-10, 11-3; Kim Song I lost to Wu Yang 7-11, 6-11, 10-11.