The Ultimate Table Tennis season 3 is well and truly set in motion with the conclusion of the coach draft. Six Indian and six foreign coaches were picked by the six franchises to spearhead their respective teams into the new season, as we eagerly await it to start on the 25th of July 2019.
The teams came prepared for the draft, having done their homework on the nine familiar coaches from seasons one and two, A. Muralidhara Rao, Arup Basak, N Ravichandran, Sachin Shetty, Soumyadeep Roy, Elena Timina, Francisco Santos, Peter Engel, and Vesna Ojstersek, and the three new coaches Parag Agrawal, Zoltan Batorfi and Jiaqi Zheng. As a result, the event was a short affair and was concluded in an hour, with the coaches drafted as follows –
Chennai Lions - A. Muralidhara Rao and Peter Engel
Dabang Delhi T.T.C. - Sachin Shetty and Vesna Ojstersek
Goa Challengers - Arup Basak and Elena Timina
RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata - N Ravichandran and Zoltan Batorfi
U Mumba TT- Soumyadeep Roy and Jiaqi Zheng
Puneri Paltan - Parag Agrawal and Francisco Santos
Mrs. Vita Dani, Chairperson, 11SPORTS Pvt. Ltd., beamed with excitement at the proceedings as she quipped, “ The coach draft is only the beginning. Fortunately, all the coaches that we have are very worthy and credible, so whichever franchise team has picked up the coaches, I’m confident the coaches will do a great job for their teams.”
Also present at the auction was TTFI advisor Dhanraj Choudhary, who was all praise for the league’s contribution to the improvement of players, as he looked forward to the upcoming season. “The UTT has done well to help youth players play as a team with the Indian and foreign players. By virtue of the UTT, the junior players, youth players and senior players have all improved their world ranking in 2018. If the UTT continues like this, we can see more and more players in the future get a high ranking in the world,” he said.
We caught up with Puneri Paltans Table Tennis’ CEO Kailash Kandpal and asked him about his two picks for the team. “Fransico Santos is an established coach, and he’s been with UTT for two seasons, along with the international team (Portugal). So, we thought we’d go with Santos, and Parag Agrawal, who is making his debut. I think their combination will work well; he is a young guy who’s proven his mettle with the junior teams in the Indian table tennis circuit. They make a good fit and good unit together,” said the head of the newly formed UTT franchise.
On the other hand, RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata’s Utsav Parekh had a very tricky afternoon, being third in the draft order. “Our first pick was Zoltan, he’s an unknown entity. But we did some research on him and we are confident that he is going to be a great coach for us,” said Mr. Parekh on the Hungarian debutant.
The teams made the most of their draft order, and now in tow with their respective coaches, will eagerly look forward to partaking in the player draft set to occur on the 13th of June 2019.