Aim is to get off to a good start but consistency will remain key: Arup Basak of Maharashtra United

INCHING CLOSER to the opening day of the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis slated for July 13 start at the Nehru Stadium in Chennai, the 18-day extravaganza features DHFL Maharashtra United among strong contenders for the title.  

The team’s prized possession is men’s World No. 8 Wong Chun Ting. He is joined by women’s No. 22 Liu Jia, along with Joao Monteiro and Fu Yu, who are both part of the top 50 in the men’s and women’s category respectively. While Wong Chung Ting is a versatile player with an aggressive style of play and uses both sides of the racket to wreak havoc on an opponent, Joao Monteiro, ranked 48 adds solidity to the team. Monteiro is himself a winner of the European Team Championship 2014 and is the perfect balance of elegance and experience.

Chinese origin Austrian star Liu Jia and Portuguese star Yu Fu form the women’s team in the foreign contingent of Maharashtra United. The European Champion Liu Jia has grabbed four Gold medals in the singles category of the Pro Tour too, again in the singles category, and has also won the Champions League twice. She is joined by Yu Fu, the European Individual Championship runner-up, and Rio Olympian. Yu and her aggressive style of table tennis are exactly what Maharashtra United expect to bring them glory at the tournament.

With an average age of 22.5 years, the Indian contingent representing DHFL Maharashtra United have got a youthful squad. The prodigies include Harmeet Desai, Ronit Bhanja, Krittwika Sinha Roy and Pooja Sahasrabuddhe, who on any given day showcase exceptional talent and tenacity that is bound to leave you impressed. 

Youngster Harmeet Desai from Gujarat has had a meteoric rise in the world of table tennis and has broken into the top 100 in the world rankings at a very young age. He will look to showcase his attacking brand of table tennis in the competition and blaze a trail. Ronit Bhanja is another hot prospect, ranking 12th in India at one point and finishing 5th in the World Junior Circuit finals. To add further strength, Pooja Sahasrabuddhe, the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games Silver medallist and World TT Championships Gold medallist in the 2nd division leads the women's line up from the country. Rounding off the group of home talents is 23-year-old Krittwika Sinha Roy is a Fajr Cup champion. Team coach Arup Basak, who holds the distinction of helping team India win 13 medals at the Commonwealth Championships 2013 and securing promotion for his team to the first division in the World Team Championships, expressed,

“There is no doubt we have a very promising team. With top-ranked foreign recruits and young guns who are eagerly awaiting the start of the League, I think we are equipped to pose a threat to any other team. This is a great opportunity for our Indian youngsters to up their game, learn from the best and apply it in their future tournaments. As a team, we will certainly look at getting off to a good start but the format of the league is such that any team can make it to the final four and to ensure we play the knockout, we have to remain consistent.”

Karsai, considered among the best European coaches, has coached Austria to a Gold medal at the World Championship.

DHFL Maharashtra United will play their first match on July 15 against Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas in Chennai.

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