Batra was born on 15 June 1995 as the youngest of three children. She hails from Naraina Vihar in Delhi and began playing table tennis at the age of four. Her elder sister Anchal and elder brother Sahil both played table tennis, with Anchal having an influence on her during her early playing career. After winning a match in a state-level under-8 tournament, Batra decided to train under coach Sandeep Gupta who suggested her to switch to Hans Raj Model School where he ran his academy.
Batra turned down many modelling offers as a teenager. When she was 16, she declined a scholarship to train at the Peter Karlsson Academy in Sweden. She studied at the Jesus and Mary College, New Delhi for a year before dropping out to concentrate on table tennis.
Star Indian table tennis player Manika Batra clinched the bronze medal at the ongoing ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup tournament on Saturday, becoming the first Indian female paddler to win a medal at the event. Manika beat Japanese Hina Hayata, World No. 6 and seeded third, 4-2 (11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10, 4-11, 11-2) to become the first Indian woman to win a medal at the event.
Barely hours after losing her semifinal match to Japan’s second seed Mima Ito in the Asian Cup table tennis tournament here on Saturday, Manika Batra produced a dazzling performance to outclass another Japanese Hina Hayata, World No. 6 and the third seed, 4-2 (11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10, 4-11, 11-2) in the play-off match for the third place and bag a historic bronze medal.
A big shot-maker
With a big backlift, the left-handed Hayata is a paddler capable of producing winners from tough positions and angles. Strategically, Manika largely nullified it by twiddling her racquet getting her long pimpled rubber to do the rest. Hayata struggled with the spin. But to reduce the Indian’s performance to ‘funny’ rubbers will be false.
Manika never relented from going for attack. While trailing or when ahead, she kept her focus and continued with her aggressive approach. The best example surfaced in the fourth game against Hayata. Trailing 6-10, Manika, ranked 44 in the world and unseeded here, produced a string of forehand winners to win the game at 12-10.
After the win, she said
After the win, she said, “I am happy to win the bronze medal. This win is a huge one for me, defeating the top players. I enjoyed playing and fighting well against them to achieve a fantastic result. I will continue putting the extra yard in all my future tournaments. I expect all of you to extend your full support.”
Unseeded in Bangkok, Manika, ranked 44 in the world, defeated three much higher-ranked players. First she upset China’s Chen Xingtong, World No. 7 and seeded fourth, in the first round (pre-quarterfinals) then put it across Chen Szu-Yu (Taipei), World ranked 23 and seeded eighth in the quarterfinals and then Hayata in the bronze medal playoff match. Manika has proved the doomsayers wrong with a performance to cherish for a long time.
The current edition of the Asian Cup is being held from November 17 to November 19 at Huamark Indoor Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.