by Simon Daish
Onward and upward
The ITTF World Rankings list was officially frozen in April 2020 meaning player position has remained unchanged since that date. Often the attention is primarily focused on players situated in the top 50 but look a little further down the list and Sutirtha Mukherjee’s presence in position no.95 catches the eye.
Breaking into the World top 100 for the first time in her career, Mukherjee is India’s second-highest ranked player behind 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Manika Batra. A fine achievement for 24-year-old Mukherjee, especially considering how far she has come in a relatively short period of time.
Cast your eye back to April 2019, one whole year prior to the World Ranking freeze and you won’t find Sutirtha Mukherjee’s name amongst the top 200, top 300 nor even the top 400. In fact, it was position no.502 for Mukherjee! Within the space of a single month Mukherjee climbed 225 positions up the list and has since enjoyed a positive upward trend.
Moving in the right direction in the rankings, Mukherjee is showing encouraging signs on the table too.
Competing as a member of India’s historic 2018 Commonwealth Games team, Mukherjee played her part in helping her country to a first-ever women’s team gold at the event.
Mukherjee also came close to a second medal on the Gold Coast as she and partner Pooja Sahasrabudhe reached the bronze medal match, narrowly losing out to Malaysia’s Ho Ying and Karen Lyne. Later that year, Mukherjee was also present in the Indian line-up that achieved a top eight finish at the 2018 Asian Games.
A reliable asset in a team structure, but it is on the singles front that Mukherjee is beginning to make positive headlines.
Eliminated at the first hurdle of the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf, two years later in Budapest Mukherjee was presented with the opportunity to better that result. Against the odds, the Indian qualifier posted a noteworthy 4-3 victory over Germany’s Sabine Winter, who entered the draw as the no.44 seeded player!
On more recent evidence Mukherjee has continued to play with wind in her sail – her performance at the 2020 Indian National Championships painting a most promising picture. Producing some of her best table tennis to date, Mukherjee emerged 4-0 victor over Krittwika Roy to lift the women’s singles trophy in Hyderabad. Just like many other sports, table tennis is a result driven business and Mukherjee is starting to live up to expectations. Now can she take her game to the next level?
Surely the first goal on Mukherjee’s radar is to surpass compatriot Manika Batra and become the highest ranked Indian player in the Women’s World Rankings. An aim to break into the top 50 is another reasonable target but it won’t be easy with plenty of hurdles lying ahead.
Consistency on the global stage will be key to achieving both accolades – it will be exciting to see what lies in store for Sutirtha Mukherjee and Indian table tennis when international action finally makes its return.