India's star female table tennis player Manika Batra feels that moving her training base has helped her make significant strides in her game because of the positive playing environment in Pune. Manika has jumped 18 places in the last two months in the ITTF rankings to be placed at No.61.
Back in February, the 24-year-old made the decision to end what had become a sour relationship with her childhood coach Sandeep Gupta. Manika knew people would make a "big deal" out of her decision to part ways with the Dronacharya Award-winner, but she has since justified the call with her performances — a round-of-32 finish in German and Sweden Open.
"I felt a lot more confident about my game and my movement in Germany and at the Sweden Open. I can see the improvement. The playing environment in Pune really is positive and all my training partners are working hard with me as well for themselves," Manika told PTI.
Training under Sanmay Paranjape, the multiple-time CWG gold medallist and Asian Games bronze medallist, is confident of improving her speed and return to the top-50 soon.
"Physically, I need to be stronger so that I can move better around the table. In table tennis, reflexes are very important. Everyone says I am tall, so I can reach easily but reaching with hands is not enough, you have to be equally fast with your leg movement. I am working on that," said the paddler who plays with a pimpled rubber.
Manika prefers training on her own and has done so ever since the 2018 Asian Games. But her bronze in the doubles event alongside veteran Sharath Kamal has given hopes of an Olympic medal for India, thereby amplifying the need for coaching camps.
"Team bonding is required and that happens in national camps. The camps will happen once the new coach comes in. Also, camps are needed if you have to prepare for the doubles events," Manika added.