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Within India, she only has the titles of All-India Ranking Zonal Championships (at Mohali and Indore) in her kitty, not yet a podium finish in the national championship. But before that, the 13-year-old table tennis player from the South of Kolkata established her mettle by winning medals in international competitions. She has bagged silver and bronze medals in the under-15 category in the Czech Republic, gold in Slovenia, bronze in Croatia, gold and bronze in Italy, and the bronze medal in Hungary during her two-month training and competition participation programs early this year (2022). More importantly, she has been the youngest paddler so far to have participated in the Champions League, the highest competition in Austria. She is Syndrela Das, one of the brightest students of the former national coach and national champions Soumyadeep Roy and his wife Paulomi Ghatak.
Syndrela Das Journey
Syndrela started playing the game at the age of nine years. After having won a couple of local tournaments, Syndrela started loving the game and pursued table tennis seriously and got admitted to Soumyadeep Roy’s academy. The student of the class eighth standard is presently preparing for the upcoming state championship and then the national championship. Syndrela is currently ranked 5 in the world in the under-13 category while she is number four in India.
Syndrela has a great attribute to her coaches. She asserted,
“I would not have achieved the medals I won in all these international competitions had Soumyadeep Roy and Poulami Ghatak not been my teachers. Their intensity in the style of training and fitness and ultimately their vision of the game steered me to reach the level where I am able to win matches against better opponents. It was sir who sent me to Austria to master the competitiveness in the highest level of the game.”
The Rare Experience
Following an association with Austria’s premier club Linz AG Froschberg, Syndrela went there for two-month training. She had an opportunity to practice with some of Austria and Europe’s top women paddlers such as Sofia Polcanova, Suthasini Sawettabut, Karoline Mischek, Margarita Baltushite, and Malama Papadimitriou. While commenting on her experience, Syndrela said,
“The experience was unique. Practicing with such great players and playing with them gave me a lot of lessons and it helped me to improve the game also. My rally on the board has been faster. I generally love to dish out the attacking brand of the game and after training there I have strengthened my forehand topspin as well as backhand flick shot also.”
“Playing in the Champions League as the youngest paddler was also a great experience.”
She also had a lot of praise for her two club coaches there in Austria, Zsolt Harczi and Jens Ruland.
Syndrela’s passion for the game is inimitable. Last April she was seen crying a lot after her right wrist fracture. She had to be out of the training completely for almost three months. But, according to her mother Susmita Das,
“Syndrela’s blubbering was not because of the pain or injury. Rather she broke down mentally because she was not able to practice. Every day she went to Soumyadeep sir’s academy, used to watch others practicing, and even sometimes used to hit the balls with her left hand.”
Even in the North Zone championship in Mohali, Syndrela suffered from a kind of food poisoning and defying acute weakness and stomach cramps, paddler played 25 matches in a single day and finally emerged champion.
The girl dreams of winning medals in the Olympics and also a podium finish in the senior national championship. Her favorite Indian paddlers are Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, and Sutirtha Mukhopadhyay.
However, she added,
“If you ask me who is the most favorite then I will say Soumyadeep Roy and Poulami Ghatak’s names. They are still amazing on board even after having retired from professional table tennis long back.”
Syndrela also gets inspired from watching the videos of legendary Chinese paddlers Ma Long, and Cheng Meng’s matches and training. In a bid to strengthen her concentration and motivation, Syndrela reads books on Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar.