WITH FIVE DAYS TO GO for the inaugural edition of the CEAT UTT, India’s first-ever professional table tennis league, preparations are in full swing in the RP-SG Mavericks camp as they take on Falcons TTC in the first match of the League on July 13 in Chennai.
Coached by Sachin Shetty and the vastly experienced Peter Engel, the team features prominent faces in Sharath Kamal Achanta who is undoubtedly a fan-favourite in the league. With Gold medals to his credit at the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Indian ace can get the crowd going. Giving him company will be 19-year-old Birdie Boro. The man who hails from Guwahati has idolised Sharath Kamal growing up, and at CEAT UTT, he has the chance to partner him. Boro’s playing style is in line with Kamal’s as they both favour a more offensive approach to the game.
In the women’s category, the Mavericks pin their hopes on the gifted Archana Kamath. The 18-year-old is fast gaining recognition for her fierce style. Kamath has achieved plenty with Gold in the 2015 French Open being her biggest achievement yet. Partnering her will be another young player in Amruthapushpak Shekhar. The Chennai-born right hander has garnered a lot of buzz after her performances in the National Ranking Tournament. Sachin Shetty, who was the Indian junior team coach at the India Open 2013 where he led the side to 1 Silver and 1 Bronze medal, said,
“There is a lot of the excitement in our camp. It is the first-time Indian players are involved in a League of this nature and the format too is very interesting. We want to make a big impression in the first season of the CEAT UTT and if we are able to begin the League with a win then we can carry on the momentum.”
The foreign players include Apolonia Tiago and Stefan Fegerl. Both are fans of tennis great Roger Federer and also lean towards a more attacking style of play. The Austrian Fegerl was a part of the 2015 European Championship and also, admirably, was a runner-up in the 2015 Polish Open. While Tiago will be one to keep a close eye on as he likes to take the game to his opponent.
In the foreign women category, German Sabine Winter brings with her a plethora of experience. Winter won the European Championship Doubles in 2013 and 2016, while securing third position in the European Top 16 Cup and in the World Championships team event. While Winter is right-handed, her partner Sofia Polcanova is left-handed. The 22-year-old Austrian has represented her country in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. Sharath Kamal stated,
“I feel our squad has been carefully picked with players who can provide great combinations and that will prove vital in this format. With coaches who are not new to the Indian players as Peter Engel was the Indian national team coach from 2013 to 2014 while Sachin is known to all us, their experience with Indian paddlers could prove to be vital in our team’s chances. I think the CEAT UTT is a great initiative to grab the Indian audience’s attention towards table tennis and witness how exciting matches can be.”