COME JULY, some of the world’s finest table tennis stars will descend on Indian soil for the much-awaited Ultimate Table Tennis – the country’s first ever professional table tennis league which will be held in Chennai, Delhi & Mumbai starting July 13, 2017.
Among the 24 men and women foreign players are World No. 7 Wong Chun Ting of Hong Kong who was also last year’s bronze medalist in the Men’s World Cup. At the Liebherr 2017 World Table Tennis Championships in Duesseldorf, Germany, Wong Ting reached quarterfinals in men's singles and won a bronze medal in mixed doubles alongside Doo Hoi Kem who is also a part of UTT. Germany's Petrissa Solja won a bronze for the host country in mixed doubles alongside Fang Bo from China. The last time a German won a mixed doubles medal was in 1971 making the victory extra special for Petrissa Solja who is ready for her new challenge at UTT. World No. 9 in women’s ranking Han Ying of Germany will be the top billing in the inaugural edition that will begin in Chennai.
The table tennis extravaganza will comprise six franchisees and will be hosted in Chennai (July 13-20), New Delhi (July 21 to 26) with the final leg being held in Mumbai (July 27 to 30).
India’s Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra will lead the list of 12 men and 12 women from the country out of a strong pool of 48 players. The Indian duo of Manika Batra and Mouma Das created history at Germany by becoming the first Indian pair to reach the quarterfinals of the World Table Tennis Championships. Each team will have eight players — four men and four women — with an equal mix of overseas and Indian players, apart from a foreign and an Indian coach.
"These are exciting times for us at the Ultimate Table Tennis as we inch closer to the launch of the first ever professional TT league in India. We have received an overwhelming response from foreign players and have a strong pool of Indian talent also. We are ready to kick off what promises to be one of the most entertaining sporting events,"expressed Vita Dani, Chairperson, 11Even Sports.
Mr. Niraj Bajaj, Co-Promoter of UTT and a three time National Table Tennis Champion, added,
“We have a great pool of talent participating in the inaugural season of UTT. Supporting the players are World class Indian and international coaches who have guided national teams to medals in the past. The format provides a great opportunity for Indian players to play alongside top international players which will help their growth tremendously.”
The list of foreign coaches includes former player Elena Timina, currently the coach of Dutch ladies table tennis team, Peter Engel, former Head Coach of Netherlands, Ilija Lupulesku, current National Coach of the Serbian team, Francisco Santos who coached Joao Geraldo of Portugal to a bronze medal in singles and doubles at the European Youth Championships, Belgium national coach for men Ferenc Karsai as well as former Yugoslavia international Vesna Ojsteršek.
There will be 15 league matches, with each tie played on a nine individual match basis. Each individual match will consist of three games on a race to 11 with each game winner being awarded one point. Each league match will have 27 points to play for and the four franchisees with highest points in the league stage will advance to the semifinals. The champion will receive Ã¢âÂ¹1 crore, runner-up Ã¢âÂ¹75 lakh and the losing semifinalists, Ã¢âÂ¹50 lakh each. The remaining Ã¢âÂ¹25 lakh, from a total purse of Ã¢âÂ¹3 crore, will be presented to individual performers.
Each franchisee will get to pick eight players through a draft that will be conducted on June 9, 2017 to ensure balance of strength for each franchisee.