WITH RENOWNED coach Elena Timina, who masterminded two Gold medals and one Silver medal for the Dutch side in the European Championships, bringing tactical awareness to the fore and the team backed by domestic coach A Muralidhara’s fast experience, Shaze Challengers have the potential to pose a serious ‘challenge’ to the teams vying for top honours at the inaugural edition of CEAT UTT slated to begin on July 13 in Chennai.
The Shaze Challengers features rising star Manav Thakkar along with Soumyajit Ghosh. While Manav at 17 is the youngest male Indian star in the CEAT UTT, 24-year-old Soumyajit has already participated in two Olympics, London in 2012 and Rio in 2016.
In the Indian Women’s category, the Challengers have another 17-year-old in Moumita Dutta. ‘Mou’ as she’s fondly called, displays an aggressive style of play. The right-hander also has 3 Gold medals in the Iran Open under her belt. Complimenting Moumita Dutta’s prodigious talent will be veteran Mouma Das. At 33, Das has been monumental figure in the Indian table tennis circles. The Challengers will look at her in the hopes of winning the inaugural UTT edition, and in the Arjuna Awardee, they have reliable shoulders to depend on. Team coach A Muralidhara, who spearheads the highly successful SDAT-AKG Academy in Chennai which has churned out gifted players including the famous Achanta Sharath Kamal, said,
“We have some exceptional talent in our team with young guns who are eager to prove their might in front of home crowd. We have picked the team with a deliberate effort to keep the team youthful with also some players who bring great experience to the team. We are geared up for the start and we are confident of some exciting performances."
In Andrej Gacina and Li Ping, the Challengers have a formidable duo to lead the challenge. Both aged 31, have the potential to take their side to the CEAT UTT crown. Li Ping represents Qatar in the international circuit and was the crowned winner in the Mixed Doubles category at the 2009 World Table Tennis Championship. Croat Andrej Gacina has notably bagged first position at the European Championship in the Doubles Category as well as second position in the team event.
As far as the international women players are concerned, the Challengers will believe they have the strongest pairing. Their first two Draft picks – Han Ying and Petrissa Solja are a force to reckon with. In Ying, the Challengers can boast of the highest ranked female player in the league. Ying along with Solja, represent Germany at an international level. And while Ying prefers a more defensive approach, Solja is famed for the attacking flair she brings to the table.
Shaze Challengers Match Schedule:
July 14th - vs Dabang Smashers TTC
July 17th - vs Oilmax-Stag Yoddha
July 21st - vs Falcons TTC
July 24th - vs DHFL Maharashtra United
July 27th - vs RP-SG Mavericks