SPRINGFIELD, NJ – Livingston high school student Oishik Mukherjee, who started playing Table Top (TT) at age eight and earned his first state title at age 12, won his second consecutive New Jersey State Table Tennis Championship earlier this month when he competed in the 91st NJ State Table Tennis Tournament at the NJ Table Tennis Club in Springfield.
The Heritage eighth grader – whose father, Shuvradeep, inspired his love of the sport – competed in the under-2000 USA Table Top (USATT) championship.
“My heart skipped a beat when the player / game card came in and I saw that my first match was with someone I lost often,” said Mukherjee. “My dad reminded me of what normally works and what doesn’t work for this person. It helps to hear it again because my dad is always ringside. The trick is to make the opponent uncomfortable and not play the way he wants to play. “
Mukherjee beat every opponent he faced in the recent tournament. Going into the final round, Mukherjee came face to face with his first opponent for a second time – a man in his 40s who reminded spectators why the game of table tennis is “ a great equalizer, ” said the teen. .
“We play players of all ages and styles,” he said. “So I would play the final against a 40-plus-year-old gentleman who doesn’t have my 13-year-old pace, while I don’t have his 20 years of experience dealing with 13-year-olds.”
He described the final round as a “nail biter,” where he was forced to use every skill in his toolbox and all the table tennis knowledge he has gained over the years to outsmart his middle-aged opponent.
“In the end, my speed, ability to move the ball and change the pace of the game worked better,” said Mukherjee. “I tired him moving the ball in and out and frustrated him by not putting the ball where he wanted it.”
Ketan Bhuptani, who hosts local table tennis tournaments, said he was immediately impressed by Mukherjee’s talent when he met the young player four years ago.
“Oishik is by far the most talented youngster to play the game, in my personal experience,” said Bhuptani. “He was a budding young table tennis player when I first met him [and] a much more advanced player in skills than other kids his age. He played in the young boys category and easily won the tournament.
“We placed him in the men’s category in next year’s tournament. He instantly shone in both the singles and doubles categories, winning hearts with his innocence-winning approach. “
Bhuptani explained that one of the reasons Mukherjee can thrive in this arena is because TT requires studying the opponent to learn his or her style and determine how to outsmart him or her.
“Oishik is a thinker,” said Bhuptani. “He studies his games, he learns quickly [mistakes] and will come back stronger in the next game. Real character of a champion, in my opinion. “
Mukherjee currently practices table tennis for five hours a week, spread over three training days: two one-on-one days and one group day. He also attends an advanced league on Fridays and participates in a regional tournament at least once a month.
To be successful in his sport, Mukherjee said he “sacrifices a lot,” such as spending less time with friends, watching television, and playing video games, to fill his weeks with “training, training, competition and tournaments.” . “
“It’s worth all the stress, tension and drama,” he said. “I’m a two-time NJ state champion, and I’m proud.”
Mukherjee’s father, who also played TT for many years, was also proud of the sport, stating that it is one of the few existing ones that “burns a lot of calories; is contact and injury free; can be played indoors all year round; has enormous worldwide appeal; is very good for hand-eye coordination, eye health and mental / cognitive skill development; can be played for a long time in life; and is free from drug use. “
In addition to being a champion TT player, Mukherjee participates in Boy Scouts, gets top grades in school, sings in the district choir, and also gets top scores in the stock market game.
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