With the coach draft done and dusted, the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) engine chugs on to the next stop – the UTT Player Draft 2019.
The highlight of this draft is Dabang Delhi Table Tennis Club’s retention of India’s highest-ranked paddler, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, for the third season running.
Their faith in the tenacious paddler was vindicated by Sathiyan’s performance as a player and as captain, leading the team to their maiden UTT championship. He is the only player to be retained by any franchise for the upcoming season, a testimony to his growing stature in the world of table tennis.
A plethora of stars will pepper each category of players in the pool, with known names including national champions, Sharath Kamal and Archana Kamath, Manika Batra, Madhurika Patkar, Sutirtha Mukherjee and Manav Thakkar in the Indian category. This will also be the first time for Archana and Manav in the senior category.
Paddlers like Doo Hoi Kem, Bernadette Szocs, Sabine Winter, Matilda Ekholm, Alvaro Robles, Tiago Apolonia, and Chuang Chih-Yuan are back for season 3 in the Foreign Player category that includes Petrissa Solja, who is returning to UTT season 3 after the first season.
World No 8 Cheng I-Ching from Chinese Taipei will be the highest ranked player at this year’s UTT player draft as she makes her debut in the tournament. Jon Persson, Kirill Gerassimenko, and Benedikt Duda are the other debutants who will be part of the draft pool in the foreign player category.
Season 3 of the UTT will witness a change in format, with a host of new updates. The teams have been trimmed down from eight to six players per franchise, and each tie will have five matches instead of seven.
Strategy will be more important than ever before with any male player of a team eligible to be pitted against any male player of the other team. The same applies to the female players. Additionally, no player will play more than one singles match per tie.
The teams with their newly picked coaches from the recently concluded coach draft will be eagerly looking forward to the player draft on the 13th of June, as the final piece of the jigsaw falls into place for the exciting season coming up ahead.