Indian table tennis national coach and former paddler Soumyadeep Roy feels that Sutirtha Mukherjee has the potential to break into the top-30 of the world rankings. He is also expecting some upsets from the World No. 95 at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 25-year-old Sutirtha Mukherjee is one of four Indian paddlers to have booked their tickets for the quadrennial event. Mukherjee and G Sathiyan confirmed their places by topping their respective South Asian groups in the Asian qualifiers.
Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra too made it by virtue of their world rankings, before bagging India its first-ever mixed doubles berth at the Olympics.
Sutirtha Mukherjee's consistent performances in the WTT Contender series, the World and the Asian qualifiers have made the national coach believe that she definitely belongs in the elite bracket.
“Sutirtha has played four tournaments within a span of one month. With the level she is playing at the moment, she has shown that she has the potential to break into the top-30 of the world,” Soumyadeep Roy told Sportskeeda in an exclusive chat.
Sutirtha Mukherjee can reach the Tokyo Olympic quarters: Soumyadeep Roy
When asked about their target for the Tokyo Olympics, Roy said that Mukherjee has the potential to make the last-eight at the mega event.
“The target remains the same — to win some excellent matches in the Olympics and cause some upsets. She has the potential to reach the quarterfinals."
Soumyadeep Roy also went on to share how he felt when his protégé, Sutirtha, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Even though India bagged quite a few berths, the national coach admitted that the best moment for him was when Mukherjee beat Manika Batra 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 4-11, 11-5, 11-4 to make the cut.
“It was an icing on the cake for me because Sutirtha, whom I have trained for the last seven years, has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The dedication, sacrifice and the aim that we started with, it didn’t get wasted,” said Roy, a 2005 Arjuna awardee.
What’s next for Sutirtha Mukherjee?
With just three and a half months in hand, Sutirtha Mukherjee needs to train at the highest level and even play in a few competitive tournaments to get vital match practice. But the biggest obstacle remains the funding, as Roy pointed out.
“It all depends on how much funds we are able to manage. The Haryana Sports Development has always supported Sutirtha for the last few years and she will speak to them to lend us some support this time also. If we are able to get that, we will utilise that fund for her training abroad,” Soumyadeep Roy said.
“She is still in the TOPs Developmental programme. We have to see if she gets included in the core programme. So it all depends on how things pan out in the next few days. If nothing happens, then we will be training as we have done for the last seven years to prepare herself for the Tokyo Olympics," added Roy.
Soumyadeep Roy emphasized on the fact that Sutirtha Mukherjee needs to be more consistent on her attacking forehand. He also added that he will look after Sutirtha Mukherjee's diet personally to make her fitter for the Tokyo Olympics.
“I think she needs to be more consistent on her attacking forehand. She also needs to improve on her fitness and diet. Already we have a nutritionist for her but I would personally take care of her diet in the next few months. These are the two main things that I would be working on before Tokyo,” Roy concluded.