By Neha Aggarwal
Making her first major appearance at the international arena in 1998 at the South East Asian Games, Thailand’s Nanthana Komwong is certainly no new name. She has led Thailand in five Olympic Games, starting from 2000 in Sydney until recently at Rio in 2016. In the last two decades, this 37-year old Thai legend has won 19 medals at the South East Asian Games and with the exception of 2003, has been present at the World Championships since making her debut in 1999 in Eindhoven.
What an incredible journey for Nanthana who currently stands at no.71 on the May World ranking list!
Her long term teammate, doubles partner and good friend Anissara Muangsuk has been with the team as an athlete since 1995 when her first big appearance was at the South East Asian Games; together they have competed for Thailand at the highest levels. However, since 2012, she focused her attentions on coaching and thus the roles were changed. She was also part of ITTF Mentorship initiative where she learnt nitty gritty of coaching for table tennis.
In the last two years, however, two new young, energetic and talented girls have fully taken over Anissara’s role, with Nanthana still serving the role of a senior member athlete.
22-year old Suthasini Sawettabut and 20-year old Tamolwan Khetkhuan have shown their emerged dominance at the international arena.
Suthasini Sawettabut, ranked no.60 in May 2017 in the world had her claim to fame when she qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Winner of three ITTF World Junior Circuit titles, Suthasini has steadily walked up the ladder and is now the highest ranked Thai woman in the world. In the recently concluded ITTF-Asian Championships, she made two back to back upsets, defeating DPR Korea’s Ri Hyon Sim in round two. In round of three, she beat Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem who won the Under 21 Women’s Singles title at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open. Suthasini made it to round four but eventually lost to world no.1 Ding Ning.
Complementing her efforts is the bubbly 20-year old Tamolwan Khetkhuan, ranked no.122 in May 2017, who spend a great deal of time training in Austria and competes in the European League. Tamolwan recently shocked Europe’s top player Elizabeta Samara in the third round at the Zagreb Open, and lost only to her team mate Suthasini Sawettabut, who made it to the semi-final stage. Tamolwan paired with Nanthana Komwong to reach the round of 16 in the women’s doubles at the 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships.
Tamolwan Khetkhuan is also a fashionista and a winner when it comes to social media. She is fun and quirky, and if you are not following her on Facebook and Instagram, you are missing out on a lot of fun from the young lady.
Thailand’s women’s team is in good form, in Düsseldorf, Suthasini Sawettabut is seeded 37, Nanthana Komwong is seeded 45th, and Tamolwan Khetkhuan is at 69.
They are the ones the top names need to be careful in the initial stages, because these girls are passionate, fight till the end and are certainly ready to give in their 100 per cent at Düsseldorf.