Kanak Jha Competes at the 2016 US Open in the Junior Team Event
After his stellar performance at the World Junior Championships in Cape Town, South Africa, where he won 10 out of his 12 matches, Kanak Jha is back on his home turf. This week he will compete in the 2016 US Open in Las Vegas Nevada where he is among a tight pack of rated players in the draw for the Men's Singles Event.
Just half a year ago the young star who became the youngest ever male table tennis Olympian and Team USA's first Olympian born in the new millenium, had fought tooth and nail at the Brooklyn Bowl finals session to claim the US National Men's Championship Title. Jha now a full time player in Sweden feels the country has helped continue his development, “My training in Sweden has been really good for me I think. The group I train with is really strong and I am currently playing the second highest league there which has been really helping me improve by playing with many different styles and more matches.”
Certainly it makes him a dark horse, sitting just outside the top 10 seeding positions, though the rankings and expectations don't seem to phase him at all. “One match at a time” is a recurring theme from the young player, a sign of his growing professionalism in the sport. When I asked him about the seedings and his hopes against some of the higher players he again repeated the sentiment, “I don't give too much regards to the seeding in this tournament because I know there are many strong players in Vegas at the Open. There are two Swedish here, Japanese, Chinese, Slovakian, who I know are really good. I just plan to go one match at a time”
Despite all the pressure you would think could fall on a young athlete training overseas. Kanak doesn't let it get to him, he says he tries not to worry about other people's expectations and understands that training in Sweden certainly doesn't guarantee him any results and that building expectations could potentially hinder him. With this mature and sensible approach along with some strong results, confidence and overseas training it will be interesting to see just how well Kanak Jha can do at this tournament!