WTTC Interviews: Kanak Jha Butterfly Table Tennis
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Kanak Jha

WTTC Interviews: Kanak Jha

1. How do feel about reaching quarter final of Men’s singles at WTTC?
It is kind of a bittersweet feeling in the end. It is definitely my best performance so far in my career, and something I never would have dreamed to be possible even a few years ago. However, I mostly feel disappointed that I wasn’t able to finish on the podium after getting so close. The tournament overall will certainly be a milestone in my career, as well as a very big learning experience going forward.

2. Could you describe yourself what strengths of yours were useful and good among world class players and led to the good results in this tournament?
I don’t believe I have one or two single strengths or attributes in my game. My style is more all around with a lot of focus on speed and consistency to overwhelm my opponents. Also, one of my biggest strengths compared to other players is my ability to adjust my game plan depending on my opponent. I spend a lot of time before the match trying to understand my opponents’ style so that I’m prepared for all possibilities when I step onto the table. Actually, I felt all five of my opponents had quite different styles from each other. I was able to prepare and adjust well to each of their styles which was key in my victories

3. Could you tell me how did you feel when you heard play Mix doubles with WANG Manyu? Also could you explain how you felt play mix doubles as international pair?
After the initial surprise of the announcement, I felt a mix of nervousness; but mostly excitement. Even though I knew I would be playing alongside one of the best players in the world, I didn’t have any expectations going into the mixed doubles event. I just wanted to make the most out of the opportunity of playing with her, regardless of how far we went. Personally, I am more of a singles player as I don’t really ever practice doubles. Seeing as we never had played with each other before and were not really familiar with each other’s styles, we spent a good portion of our training time together trying to learn each other’s strengths. I really cherished our training together and also tried to absorb as much knowledge about the game from her and her coach. (Coach Xiao Zhan) I knew it wouldn’t be often that I would get the opportunity to play with the Chinese and learn from them like I had in Houston. The communication was also a barrier, as we didn’t speak the same language. However, Coach Xiao spoke both which was a huge aid. And I felt we were starting to understand each other better and better throughout the tournament on the table as well.
Finally, I think we did quite well together to reach the last 16 and lose in a very tight match. I do believe we could have gone further with a little luck our way.

4. What do you think the points that you reach good result in this WTTC?
I think it was a combination of my shape, draw, home crowd, and maybe a bit of luck. My first match was extremely close and winning that helped calm me down and give me a lot of confidence for the next rounds. I must add as well that the draw was more favorable on my on my side than perhaps the other side; which included 4 out of the 5 Chinese competing.
I went into the event with a lot of confidence as well as I felt I was in a good shape during the last months.

5. How did you feel that WTTC was held in the United States first time and play there?
It was a really historic moment for myself and for the sport of table tennis. Going into the event, I did feel a lot of pressure to perform well. I had never played under a home crowd before in an international event. I also wanted to do well in front of my family, friends, supporters because they rarely get to see me play in person.
I knew it would be a new experience for me, and a new type of pressure/excitement. I had seen other top players play both exceptionally well in their home country, and worse than normal. Looking back, I felt most of the stress happened outside the table. When I stepped onto the table, the crowd truly helped me a lot and gave me an extra boost of motivation that I had not felt before. Every time the match was possibly slipping away and/or I felt a little negative; the crowd was there to push me back and give me some positive energy. Each win under the home crowd was a feeling of happiness unlike anything else I have felt before in my career.
Also, one of my biggest goals outside the table is to help grow the sport in the United States. I really hope hosting the World Championships has helped to raise the awareness and popularity. And I hope my performance can inspire a lot of American kids that it is possible to become a top player in the sport being from USA.

Kanak Jha Kanak Jha Kanak Jha Kanak Jha

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