The Ultimate Table Tennis welcomes three new franchises into its fold -- U Mumba TT, Puneri Paltan Table Tennis and Chennai Lions.
The team from Chennai started to take shape at the coach draft when the franchise picked experienced coaches A. Muralidhara Rao and Peter Engel as their Indian and foreign coaches respectively.
The Lions also made the most of their picks at the player draft, snapping up 9-time national champion and Commonwealth Games Gold-medallist (team event) Achanta Sharath Kamal in the first round.
They followed it up by picking up World No. 26 Petrissa Solja, Portuguese star Tiago Apolonia, Commonwealth gold-medallist Madhurika Patkar (team event) and rising paddlers Yashini Sivasankar and Anirban Ghosh.
“The draft went off well, as we expected it to be. Our team has a well-balanced composition, so yeah, we are very happy the way we have drafted the players,” beamed Rao, as we caught up with him after the player draft.
The Chennai Lions prioritised team building and experience, as they went for four players who have a combined seven years of UTT experience amongst them.
The paddlers that make-up the team boast impressive credentials - Sharath Kamal is the reigning National Champion, Petrissa is Germany’s No. 1 paddler and the winner of the 2019 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup. Madhurika is ranked No. 2 in India, Tiago is ranked No. 2 in Portugal and won Bronze at the 2019 World Championships (Men Doubles). The team also boasts of a local flavour in the form of Sharath Kamal and Yashini Sivasankar, which will also give fans more reasons to cheer for them.
With everything seemingly in place for the Chennai Lions, all that is left for the outfit is to train together and translate into valuable results. Stayed tuned for more news, as the UTT Season 3 gets underway on the 25th of July.