by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Listed at no.7 on the current Men’s World Rankings, Wong Chun Ting, the highest rated player on duty will represent Maharashtra United; notably lining up alongside Portugal’s João Monteiro with the latter’s compatriot Fu Yu and Austria’s Liu Jia, being the foreign female players in the selection.
Harmeet Desai and Rohit Bhaja complete the host nation’s male players in the Maharashtra United line up; the female representatives are Krittwika Sinha Roy and Pooja Sahasrabudhe.
“Ultimate Table Tennis will offer a great exposure to our Indian players to play alongside top ranking foreign players and also to be trained by the foreign coaches. I am really looking forward to the league.” Harmeet Desai
Next in the order of merit, Marcos Freitas, like João Monteiro from Portugal, joins forces with Ukraine’s Kou Lei and the host nation duo of Amalraj Anthony and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran in the Dabang Smashers team; Turkey’s Hu Melek and Tetyana Bilenko, also from Ukraine complete the female line-up alongside Madhurika Patkar and Mousumi Paul.
“I am excited to be selected by the Dabang Smashers for the Ultimate Table Tennis. The team has good players and I’m thrilled to play alongside them. This league will definitely help the sport prosper in India.” Madhurika Patkar.
Understandably at the draft, much attention focused on Sharath Kamal Achanta, India’s leading player; he represents RP-SG Mavericks in a powerful selection that includes Austria’s Stefan Fegerl and Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia. Sofia Polcanova, also from Austria and Germany’s Sabine Winter are the leading female players in the squad.
“The player draft was extremely eventful today. It was overwhelming to see that all franchises had in-depth knowledge of every player and strategized accordingly to select players for their team. At the end of the draft, all six franchises seem to be well-balanced which means we are in for an exciting and nail-biting action at the Ultimate Table Tennis League,” Vita Dani, Chair 11Even Sports Pvt Ltd.
Meanwhile, for the top two female players on duty, China’s Wu Yang and Germany’s Han Ying, both have most worthy team colleagues. Wu Yang will represent Bayside Spinners having Hong Kong’s Lee Ho Ching in support alongside Sweden’s Pär Gerell and England’s Liam Pitchford. Han Ying lines alongside colleague Petrissa Solja with Qatar’s Li Ping and Croatia’s Andrej Gacina being the male foreign representatives in the Challengers Team.
“This professional league will prove to be one of the best platforms for the Indian players to showcase how good they are to the Indian audience. These are the times when I truly wish I was still playing. The UTT I believe will give a new dimension to our players as they will get to work for close to three weeks with some of the top coaches as well as learn from fellow players in their team. It was interesting to see how the franchises went about the player draft. It’s time the viewers and spectators witness how thrilling a game of table tennis can be.” Niraj Bajaj, Co-Promoter
Innovative names and there is one franchise which has a very familiar name in the sport of table tennis, Oilmax Stag Yoodhas, the owner being Vivek Kohli. Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna and Panagiotis Gionis of Greece are the male foreign players; the female names are Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Russia’s Polina Mikhailova.
Additionally each franchise will be supported by one international coach.
Ultimate Table Tennis: Starts on Thursday 13th July