After representing the state at the age of 10, Tamil Nadu table tennis player E Prabhakaran’s hard work bore fruit when he emerged as the biggest buy of the newly-formed Table Tennis Super League-Tamil Nadu (TTSL-TN). He was sold for Rs 52, 500 to Mahee Warriors during the auction held earlier this month.
The current state champion accepted that there is some pressure on him to perform as the most expensive player of the league. “There is obviously a bit of pressure when you come with the tag of being the highest paid player. But once I enter the court, I refrain from thinking about it and consider everyone equal. We must also remember that it is a team sport, where individual glory counts for nothing,” said the Railway employee.
Prabhakaran, who drew inspiration from his cousin at the age of eight, now trains under Raman, a former Olympian and Arjuna awardee.
He said he was surprised by the response to the league in the inaugural season. “It was amazing to see the turn out on the opening day (Friday). I am excited to be a part of this new venture. It certainly has exceeded our expectations. Kudos to the organising team for scheduling the league at the appropriate time (referring to the matches being held towards the end of the week).”
When asked about the standard of ping pong in the state, he said, “Tamil Nadu is one of the front-runners in the sport alongside Maharashtra and West Bengal. The one that gives us the edge is the quality of players in different categories, ranging from the cadet to the senior level”
On the impact the league he said, “TTSL-TN will definitely help the next crop and it serves as a great platform for budding table tennis players. It feels nice to play in front of the public as we are used to playing indoors.”
When asked about his adulation for Indian star Sharath Kamal, Prabhakaran smiled. “I grew up watching his games a lot and he remains my idol. He stays grounded all the time in spite of what he has achieved. That is something the younger lot can learn from him,” he concluded.