While the ongoing Coronavirus-caused lockdown has left many athletes frustrated with their inability to train, Mumbai-based reigning Junior and Youth National table tennis champion Diya Chitale is keeping herself busy at home with the theory as well as the practical aspect of her game.

For the theoretical part, Chitale, 17, has been attending online sessions with her coaches, and on the practical front, she is training with a robot. Taking a cue from India’s top men’s paddler G Sathiyan, who is also training at home in Chennai with a robot, Chitale has expressed her gratitude to Mumbai District Table Tennis Association secretary Sameer Bhate for providing a table and a robot to help sharpen her skills.

Now, mental training

“Previously, I did not have a table at home, so I was only focusing on my physical fitness. But it’s a month now since I have a table and a robot at home, and practice has been very exciting. The robot offers variations in a spin as well as placement and pace, so it helps in not only improving shot-receiving but also practicing new strokes,” Santacruz resident Chitale told mid-day on Wednesday.

Online sessions

Besides two hours of physical exercises in the morning, and two hours of practice with the robot in the evening, Chitale also squeezes in online training sessions with two of her coaches. “I do daily online sessions with my coach Sachin Shetty. I also do a weekly session with my German coach, Peter Engel,” added Chitale, who became a national junior and youth champion in Jammu last year.

Chitale is also keen to improve the mental aspect of the game and for that, she idolizes India’s top women’s paddler Manika Batra (World No. 47), whom she lost to at the Senior National Championship at Cuttack in 2018. “Manika plays with a completely different rubber and her style of play is unlike mine but I like her attitude. She is the first woman’s paddler to win a gold medal for India at the Commonwealth Games [at Gold Coast in 2018]. I want to have a strong mindset like her,” said Chitale, who is currently ranked 34th in the world in the U-21 category.

Source: Mid-Day