Manika or Sreeja . The Run To Indian No1 Heats Up As Sreeja Enters Top40

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Manika Batra has been the No 1 Indian Women’s Singles player for over Six years now. Her name has been synonymous with Women’s Table Tennis in India.
Being the poster girl of Indian Table Tennis,her reign as No 1 has largely been unchallenged, until now when a challenger by the name of “Sreeja Akula” has suddenly emerged as a key contender for the coveted no 1 spot.

Sreeja at World No 40 now ,is frighteningly close to overtaking Manika,who is at world no 38 in world rankings, with a mere difference of thirteen points separating the two.

A year ago, Sreeja wasn’t even in the Horizon.


Manika Batra became the highest-ranked Indian table tennis player in February 2018.This achievement was the result of her stunning performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games where she came back with a total of 4 medals,2 of them Golds.

This included a historic gold medal in the women’s singles event,where she beat world and olympic medalists Yu Mengyu and Feng Tianwei en route. Since then she has become a staple in the Indian team representing the country at the highest level of competitions such as the Olympics and World championships.

Manika first broke into the top 50 in Rankings in February 2022. Since then,she has been a constant inside the top 50,achieving a career high ranking of World No 31 in November 2023,which is till date the highest ever ranking achieved by any Indian Women paddler.

Her outstanding performances in international competitions, coupled with her consistent rankings in the top tier of players worldwide, have solidified her position as India’s leading table tennis player.


Sreeja first broke into the scene during the Commonwealth games 2022,where she came back with a gold in Mixed doubles,pairing with Achanta Sharath Kamal.Since then she had been on and off the circuit,with some notable wins here and there.But her real breakthrough season came this year,where she made a strong start to the year winning the WTT Feeder Corpus Christi her first WTT title ever.
She carried on the momentum with a good Quarter Final finish at the WTT Star Contender Goa.These performances propelled her ranking upwards from the high 80s to the 50s.
She entered the top 50 for the first time in the first week of February. Moving forward, She helped India secure a Round of 16 finish at the World Team Championships in February, including an extraordinary victory over chinese world no 2 Wang Yidi in one of the group stage games.

March saw her winning her second title,the WTT Feeder Beirut II ,just a few days back. This win helped her move into the top 40s, a new career high,and agonizingly close to beating Manika Batra for the India no 1 spot.


With Sreeja looming dangerously close to her no 1 spot, Manika has no choice now but to up her game. Hypothetically,if both of them doesn’t gain any new points until may then Sreeja will Overtake Manika,as she will loose a greater number of points,those from the 2023 World championships,which are set to expire on may 28.
But that looks unlikely as of now,as there are a good number tournaments before may,where both players will get the chance to outpace each other for the top spot. Meanwhile Manika will be competing at the WTT champions today, where a good performance will help her extend the lead,for the time being.

She has to be on her toes, as she can loose good amount of points this year itself, which can pull her down in the rankings.

Unlike Manika,Sreeja has the comfort of not having to worry much about loosing big amount of points as most of her points have been acquired in the ongoing year itself.

Also Sreeja’s strategy of participating in Lower tier Feeder level tournaments has definitely paid dividends, something which Manika maybe also can try to emulate.

Athletes always strive to improve with competition. Lack of competition can sometime lead to loss of motivation for improvement. Manika hasn’t been quite at her best lately ,her ranking largely remaining stagnant for some time now,perhaps due to reasons mentioned above.

Now with a healthy rivalry slowly building up between the two,it won’t be surprising if both bring up their A game, in an attempt to outdo each other. If that happens,fans will be treated to some exciting table tennis,and Indian Table Tennis will benefit as a whole.

Written By | Deep

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