THE FALCONS TTC comprises a strong mix of young and experienced players that makes them a formidable contender at the inaugural edition of the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis starting on July 13 in Chennai. The Indian contingent will be powered by Sanil Shetty who is in sublime form. The Commonwealth Games bronze medalist along with compatriot Sathiyan Gnanasekaran created an upset win against the Korean and Chinese Taipei counterparts to advance in the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Australia Open at Gold Coast.
The other three Indian players are the young trio of Arjun Ghosh, Priyadarshini Das and Sutirtha Mukherjee, all of who hail from West Bengal. Sutirtha, has been a rising star in table tennis circles. Earlier this week, Sutirtha along with Maharashtra United's Pooja Sahasrabudhe grabbed a bronze medal today at the at ITTF World Tour Platinum Australia Open. Aged just 21, she has won the gold medal in the second division of the World Team Championships and also featured in the 2014 Youth Olympics. Priyadarshini is under 20 and has been the runner-up in the South Asian Junior Singles and will look to make a mark in the league. Arjun Ghosh has prior experience of playing in two leagues, in Sweden and Germany. He has been the U-21 champion at the National Ranking Championships and has also won the Senior Mixed Doubles at the same level.
The Falcons TTC will be coached by the experienced Soumyadeep Roy who has represented India for more than 15 years. The Arjuna awardee has plenty of coaching experience and is also one of the coaches for the Indian senior national team. Francisco Santos, on the other hand, will serve as the team’s foreign coach. Santos has played for Portugal's youth and senior teams and he will also be a part of the Olympic Project Tokyo 2020 for his home team. He has coached Joao Geraldo of Portugal to a bronze medal in singles and doubles at the European Youth Championships.
“We have two very well-qualified world-class coaches in Soumyadeep and Santos. I am sure it will be exciting and a learning experience to work with them through the League. What they bring to the table will certainly make us a strong contestant for the title and I believe we also have a great mix of Indian and foreign players who complement each other’s skills,” expressed India’s Sanil Shetty.
The foreign players in the Falcons TTC have tasted success at the highest levels in world events. With a world ranking of 13 among women, Wu Yang will be one of the key players to watch out for in Falcons TTC. Her defensive style of play has won her the 2016 ITTF World Tour German Open (Super) and the 2011 Slovenian Open – ITTF Pro Tour. She will be complemented by Ho Ching Lee of Hong Kong. The 24-year old is ranked 36 in the world and has a wide array of achievements to her credit.
She was part of the Hong Kong side that stood third in the 2014 Asian Games in table tennis. Lee has also been an integral part of the Hong Kong side during the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. Swedish star, Par Gerell and Liam Pitchford from England make up for the two foreign men in the Falcons TTC squad. Gerell has an attacking style of play and with experience in abundance, the Swede has represented his country in three Olympics – 2008, 2012 and 2016, and has claimed the bronze medal in the European Championships.
Pitchford is a young sensation and favours the attacking style of play. At the World Team Championships in 2016 in Malaysia, he played a major role for his team, England who won the Bronze medal.
“I feel our team has a diverse mix of players. While some of them are extremely good with defensive play and some are good with attacking skills, we also have very fresh talent among our Indian players. I look forward to the following week where the team will come together and we can strategize our game plan ahead of our opening match on the inaugural day,” stated Roy.
The maiden CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis begins on July 13 and Falcons TTC will play their first match against RP-SG Mavericks on the opening day in Chennai.