17-year old Chennai girl Selena Selvakumar won the Egypt Cadet Open on Sunday evening. With this victory, she vaulted up the ITTF rankings from 31st to 5th.
Selena added the junior girls’ singles and doubles titles at Sharm El Sheikh on that day. When the ITTF released the latest rankings, she was placed 5th.
Thanks to this win, Selvakumar can look forward to invitations to competing in the ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals, to be staged early next February in Luxembourg. A top 16 finish is the goal for any table tennis player. But each of the six continents – Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, Oceania plus the host nation are eligible for representation in each of the Boys’ Singles and Girls’ Singles events in Luxembourg. For them, a top 12 place is very much the target. Japan’s Maki Shiomi and Miyu Nagasaki, Hong Kong’s Wong Chin Yau and China’s Liu Weishan are the only players who are ahead of Selvakumar.
Selvakumar’s journey to the singles’ gold was fraught with obstacles. Her last two matches against the Alhodaby sisters went all the way to the wire. Selena first overcame eighth-seeded Mariam Alhodaby 4-3 (11-9, 11- 8, 10-12, 8-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5) in the semifinal and then in the title-round, she beat second seed Marwa Alhodaby 4-3 (11-5, 12-10, 8-11, 6-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-4).
In the doubles event, Selena paired up with Nigeria’s Esther Oribamise and proved to be equally effective. They beat the Egyptian-Greek duo of Farida Badawy and Malamatenia Papadimitriou 3-2 (11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9) to clinch the gold. In the semifinals, Selena and Esther routed Egypt’s Sarah Abousetta and Tunisia’s Abir Haj Sarah 3-2 (11–7, 4-11, 13-11, 9-11, 12-10).
As mentioned earlier, Selena now qualifies for the ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals in Luxembourg. However, she is not the only Indian player in Luxembourg, Manav Vikash Thakkar continues in top spot after his triumphs and he too will join his compatriot in the Finals.