UTT is redefining the future of competitive table tennis in India, says Maharashtra United coach
N Ravichandran, Maharashtra United’s domestic coach, spoke exclusively to Hindustan Times,and gave an insight into how the team is preparing for the mega blockbuster and how Ultimate Table Tennis is redefining the future of competitive table tennis in the country.pune Updated: Jun 14, 2018 15:43 IST
N Ravichandran, Maharashtra United’s domestic coach, spoke exclusively to Hindustan Times, building up to the second edition of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) tournament, set to commence today. He gave an insight into how the team is preparing for the mega blockbuster and how UTT is redefining the future of competitive table tennis in the country.
How has your preparation been thus far? Any signs of nerves?
Our preparation is going fine. All the players joined just a few days back, but have been training at their very best ever since. Last season’s performance has now set a benchmark for us and we will look to build on it. We have been able to raise the standard of play from that of last season and if all goes per plan, we can claim the title. There aren’t any nerves as the players are professionals and know what’s expected from them.
What role do you play as a coach on match days and during training sessions?
I am extremely privileged and honoured to be the coach of Maharashtra United. Francisco Santos from Portugal has been assisting me tremendously and seem to have a very healthy working relationship. We work on a lot of tactical strategies on the table. I’m constantly looking to improve certain aspects of every player’s style so as to maximise their chances of winning. Also, most of my players have already trained abroad, so no spoon-feeding is not required. I rectify them when they do something wrong.
Table tennis has not predominantly been India’s forte on the international stage. What do you think needs to change?
As a nation, we have done very well at the Commonwealth level. Now, our next target is to put in a good performance at the Olympics. It is a step-by-step process and I believe we’re headed in the right direction. Ten years back, India was struggling to even get a ranking, but now, we’re one of the emerging nations in the sport. I feel that the day is not too far when we make our mark at the Olympic level.
Many tournaments in different sports have run for a couple of seasons and then shut down. Can UTT sustain the test of time?
UTT has come up with a unique and more entertaining mode of play, particularly to bring in more viewership. It is a five-year project at least, with substantial growth in every season. The main purpose of the tournament is to encourage more youngsters to take up the sport and to reach the masses to generate more public interaction.
Do you expect fans to flood the stadiums as they do for other sports in the country?
We’re extremely optimistic about people coming in numbers to watch us this year. Last year, it was the first edition, so many fans did not know about it. However, the word has since spread and people are willing to come and watch table tennis. To keep our viewers interested, UTT decided to come down to seven ties so that the matches get done quicker.