CHENNAI: World No 84 Soumyajit Ghosh completed a career-first when he struck gold twice while mining in the heart of a South American nation famous for exporting copper. The paddler won the singles and doubles crowns at the Chile Open in Santiago on Sunday to become the second Indian winner of an ITTF Challenge Series tournament after G Sathiyan last year (Belgian Open).
One rung below the World Tour, the Challenge Series features 11 events, which are third in terms of importance at the ITTF-level, behind six World Tour Platinum and six World Tour tourneys. Only A Sharath Kamal (Egypt Open 2010) has enjoyed World Tour success, back when it was known as the Pro Tour.
The Chile Open featured the maiden all-Indian singles final, with Ghosh beating A Amalraj 4-2. Earlier, Ghosh/Amalraj routed Bulgaria’s Philipp Florit/Romania’s Hunor Szocs 4-0 to lift the first such doubles title for India.
“It’s always hard to compete against another Indian at the international level. It was even more difficult to play Amalraj just 45 minutes or so after winning the doubles together. But I’m happy to check something off my bucket list,” Ghosh told Express from Sao Paulo. He next plays the Brazil Open, another Challenge Series meet, which starts on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old thanked Chinmoy Roy, a fitness trainer-cum-physio, who has worked with domestic cricket teams. Ghosh was with him for 10 days in Hyderabad before leaving for Santiago.
“The sessions with Chinmoy helped me a lot. I injured my groin during the Asian Championships and his exercises and tips were great. I need to shed a few more kilos as, across all sports, fitness is crucial in making the jump.”
With the World Championships in June, Ghosh is hoping to get clearance from the TTFI to employ Roy full-time. In fact, Sathiyan and he are willing to split the costs.
“Sathiyan and I are willing to hire him full-time. The problem is we lack funds because of our middle-class backgrounds. We’ll search for sponsors too, maybe we’ll get lucky,” he added.
If Ghosh can continue posting good results internationally, sponsors might come find him instead of the other way round.
Indian champions of ITTF events
A Sharath Kamal
Egypt Open 2010
(Pro Tour/World Tour)
Belgian Open 2016
Chile Open 2017