NEW DELHI: Payas Jain on Tuesday became the second Indian paddler to achieve a World No. 1 ranking, thanks to his title-winning performances in the Under-17 Boys category.
The other Indian who achieved the feat was Manav Thakkar, who became the World No. 1 in the Under-21 category in January 2020.
Incidentally, Payas is the first Delhi paddler to reach the pinnacle of the ITTF world ranking and the youngest Indian to do so.
Payas has had to his credit three Under-17 crowns this season besides a couple of bronze medals in Under-19 in what was his first international appearance since the COVID-19 pandemic played havoc, bringing all activities to an abrupt halt.
He hit the groove with his maiden U-17 title in Slovenia in a tough final against German Tom Schweiger 3-2 in the WTT Youth Contender in Otocec. He followed it up with another crown in the second WTT Youth Contender Championships in Tunis when he outclassed Tom Closset of Belgium a week later.
In Tunisia, he added bronze as a bonus in the Under-19 when he lost in the semi-finals.
Carrying his form to Oman, the Delhi paddler kept his vice-like grip over the age category title when he defeated Kazakhstan’s Alan Kurmangaliyev 3-2 last week. But that was not all.
He ensured that he also brought home the gold in the Under-19 Boys with a 3-0 win over his Delhi rival Yashansh Malik in the final in Muscat. With this win, Payas goes five spots up in WR and is currently lying at No. 7. The second-best Indian, Yashansh, has jumped 22 places to be at 36.
Indeed, all these added to his profile. But the successive titles in Slovenia, Tunis, and Oman sealed him the top-ranking spot in the world as he upstaged Romanian Darius Movileanu, who held the position for quite some time. With Payas at 3458 points on the table, the Romanian is 90 points behind him in the second position.