CHENNAI: After a promising start, with runner-up finishes at the Inter-institutional and South Zone championships, Harmeet Desai’s domestic season had hit a rough patch. Three straight pre-quarterfinal losses in Central, West and North Zone had begun to eat away at his confidence.
The paddler’s moment of truth arrived at the same stage in the November 15-20 East Zone in Guwahati. Initially troubled by the same demons against Ravindra Kotiyan, he persevered to pull through 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4. The win had a ripple effect on his belief, culminating in a 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8, 13-11 final triumph over the resurgent A Amalraj on Wednesday.
While his expectations are always in check, he usually has enough belief to back him up whenever necessary. Unfortunately, that was lacking in the last few events, so he worked on all areas that malfunctioned in previous losses. Focussing on the technical aspects of his game has brought him the reward. “I have a lot of belief in my game at all times. But three consecutive pre-quarter losses took their toll and in turn, made me nervous in important moments. I analysed my flaws and came back better every time, but just wasn’t able to get the wins,” Harmeet told Express.
Overcoming Amalraj, the Central and West Zone champion, made it that much more special because the 29-year-old’s attacking game makes life hard for opponents. When on form, he simply doesn’t give them enough time to mount a defence. “I managed to beat him quite handily in the end, but the scoreline doesn’t do justice to the tension of the tie. He’s been around for a while and his game makes it difficult for others to dictate the rhythm of the match.”
The 22-year-old from Surat will now take in some much-deserved rest ahead of the December 16-21 Commonwealth Championships in his hometown. He feels one of the contributing factors to his lull in the middle was playing too many events without adequate rest.
“One keeps trying different permutations and combinations to gain maximum improvement. Sometimes, one forgets that rest too is as important. I’ve been guilty of that, so I hope to find the right middle ground,” the World No 162 signed off.