The Ultimate Table Tennis Season 3 Player Draft took place at the National Sports Club of India in Mumbai today. Now in its third year, the league has undergone a plethora of changes, one of which is to have city-based teams for the upcoming season.
Dabang Smashers T.T.C., now Dabang Delhi T.T.C., went into the player draft having made a wise and easy decision of retaining the country's highest-ranked Indian player, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (World No. 24).
The draft got underway with the order of proceedings being decided at the start of the event, where teams were picked at random to have a go at the 40 players in the pool, and Goa Challengers emerged lucky to have the first say.
Using their opportunity to the fullest, team Challengers swooped in to pick up Cheng I-Ching, the Chinese Taipei paddler and World No. 8, as their first addition to the squad. India’s ace paddlers Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra were also picked up in the first round by, Chennai Lions and RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata respectively. U Mumba TT and Puneri Paltan Table Tennis also made fine additions to their squads, as they opted for Doo Hoi Kem (World No. 11) and Chuang Chih-Yuan (World no. 27).
This time around, the league has made a shift to focus more on Indian paddlers, to continue in its rich tradition of developing national talent in the sport. Chairperson of the UTT, Mrs. Vita Dani said, "It is great to see Indian paddlers being preferred even when the teams had the option of going for foreign stars,” adding emphasis to the trend.
Round two and three of the player draft consisted of Indian paddlers such as Archana Kamath, Harmeet Desai, Amalraj Anthony and Sutirtha Mukherjee, and foreign paddlers such as Petrissa Solja, Bernadette Szocs, Tiago Apolonia and Jon Persson, who were picked to added strength to their respective sides.
At the end of the sixth round, the teams were set up as follows -
Dabang Delhi T.T.C.
Krittwika Sinha Roy
RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata
U Mumba TT
Doo Hoi Kem
Puneri Paltan Table Tennis
With the teams in place, the paddlers and their coaches will be eager to meet up and hit the ground running in training for the upcoming season, to be held at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex, Delhi from July 25 to August 11.