Pune ball boys and girls were real winners of Ultimate Table Tennis league after masterclass from pros

The players not only attended the tournament as ball boys and girls, but thanks to an initiative by Indian Oil, the organisers conducted special interaction sessions for these upcoming stars with the top players, including A Sharath Kamal.

pune Updated: Jun 20, 2018 16:25 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
ball boys,girls,real winners
A ball boy at the Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex in Balewadi in Pune on Tuesday.(HT PHOTO)

The city hosted the first leg of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league where an enthusiastic crowd witnessed the world’s biggest stars in action at the Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex in Balewadi. However, more than the crowd, it was young aspiring paddlers from the city that benefitted from the first leg of the tournament as they got up close as ball boys and girls to watch their heroes in action.

“It was a mind blowing experience and it was once in a lifetime opportunity for me to watch my favourite players up close,” said Adi Agarwal from Indira national school.

“While playing forehand top spins, we normally move the racquet upwards to give more spin, but I observed that these big players play forehand topspin keeping the racquet parallel to the table, so it gives them more speed and spin. I will definitely try out this technique in my next tournament,” he added.

Bhargav Chakradev, a student of Paranjape School who has been training at PYC Hindu gymkhana for the past three years, with the composure and concentration on display.

“I want to highlight the match between German player Sabine Winter and Madhurika Patkar. At one point, Sabine was 8-10 down, but she kept her cool and raised her performance at the right time. It was a good learning experience to watch and learn how these professionals handle the pressure on the big stage,” he said.

Neil Muley of Millennium national school trains with his father Upendra and has won three district titles last year. The 11-year-old was quick to point out who he thought were the top players in the tournament.

“I liked Sakura Mori’s aggressiveness. As a left handed player, I closely watched world number 30, Matilda Ekholm, more closely. It was a learning experience and I will surely use this experience to improve my game. I have already started practising some of the new techniques I’ve come across during the tournament and I am getting the feeling that my reflexes are getting better,” said Neil.

The players not only attended the tournament as ball boys and girls, but thanks to an initiative by Indian Oil, the organisers conducted special interaction sessions for these upcoming stars with the top players, including A Sharath Kamal.

The legendary Indian spoke about the nuances of the sport and also gave some tips on how to play and perfect their favourite shots.

Aneeha D’sozua of SPM English school said, “It was a rare opportunity and it was mesmerising to watch the big stars up close. The interactive sessions with Sharath Kamal, Divya Deshpande, Sanil Shetty and coaches from Falcons TTC and Warriors TTC were very valuable to helping my game. They taught us how to improve our serves, spins and techniques and this is going to help us in the next tournament for sure.”

For Kumar Kulkarni of Pawar public school, the experience was like an advanced training session.

“I am weak at playing backhand topspins. After watching these players perform the technique so confidently and with so much ease, I have also decided to work hard to improve my game and cover my weaknesses,” he said.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 16:24 IST