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Ultimate Table Tennis League 2018: The second season will be tougher and challenging

The Pune leg will begin on Thursday and the league will move to Delhi from June 20, followed by the final leg at Kolkata’s Netaji indoor stadium from June 26. 

pune Updated: Jun 13, 2018 16:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Ultimate Table Tennis League,2018
Team captains (from left) Joao Monteiro, Maharashtra United; Liam Pitchford, Falcons; Harmeet Desai, RP-SG Mavericks; Gnanesekaran Sathiyan, Dabang Smashers; Achanta Sharath Kamal, Warriors; and Simon Gauzy, Empowerji Challengers, reveal the Ultimate Table Tennis league, 2018, trophy at Gateway hotel, Hinjewadi, on Tuesday.(HT PHOTO)

With the change in format and participation of 24 Olympians, the second season of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league promises to be tougher and more challenging, according to the captains of the six participating teams.

The captains, Achanta Sharath Kamal (Warriors); Gnanesekaran Sathiyan (Dabang Smashers); Liam Pitchford (Falcons); Simon Gauzy (Empowerji Challengers); Harmeet Desai (RP-SG Mavericks); and Joao Monteiro (Maharashtra United), unveiled the tournament trophy on Tuesday.

On the occasion, Kamlesh Mehta, eight-time national table tennis champion and director of 11Sports, explained the change of the tournament format from a nine-match tie to a seven-match tie will make the event interesting for spectators and players alike.

“We tried to make the format more exciting and the franchisee also welcomed the decision. This new format will give more opportunities for Indian players,” said Mehta.

The Pune leg will begin on Thursday and the league will move to Delhi from June 20, followed by the final leg at Kolkata’s Netaji indoor stadium from June 26.

The first and fourth-placed teams will play the first semi-final on June 29, while the second and third-placed teams play the second semi-final on June 30. The final will be held on July 1. The winners will receive Rs 1 crore, while the runners-up will bag Rs 75 lakh. Both semi-finalists will receive Rs 25 lakh each.

Rajeev Bodas, senior vice-president, table tennis federation of India, said that the interest in the sport has increased since the advent of the league.

“A state-level tournament in Pune, which used to attract 200 to 300 entries, witnessed more than 600 entries this season. Interest in table tennis is definitely getting bigger,” he said.

Players from 19 countries, including 24 Olympians, will be competing for a chance to be crowned UTT 2018 champions.

Captains Say

Gnanesekaran Sathiyan (Dabang Smashers)

The league has created a platform for Indian players. I was the only undefeated player last season and it gave me the confidence to do well on the World Tour. My ranking also improved to 40 from 130 last year. The league gave us confidence and helped us believe that we can beat top players in international tournaments as well.

Simon Gauzy (Empowerji Challengers),

I had watched the tournament last season on Facebook and everybody who had played said they had a good time in India during the competition. So, I was eager to be a part of this experience and fortunately, I got a chance to showcase my skills here.

Liam Pitchford (Falcons)

The tournament is not just helping Indian players, but it has been equally beneficial to European players as well. For me it helped me learn how to deal with pressure situations during the World Tour events. After those amazing three weeks last year, I always wanted to come back.

Achanta Sharath Kamal (Warriors),

I have played in leagues in Germany, but it is a totally different experience playing in this league. In Germany, the league goes on for 10 months and you need to stay there and train. Here, you play everyday without getting any time to settle down. The tight three-week schedule brings out the best of you.

Joao Monteiro (Maharashtra United)

What I liked the most about the league is the unique golden point rule. It helps make the match more intense and I feel that this rule should be applied in World Tour competitions as well. Another important feature is team spirit. I love to play as a team rather than playing for myself.

Harmeet Desai (RP-SG Mavericks)

The league instils confidence in the players. It is not just about techniques, but the league has groomed players to deal with media and fans, and helped them to interact with them. I believe that the second season will be bigger and better than the previous one.

First Published: Jun 13, 2018 16:56 IST