Massimo Constantini set to return as chief coach

Constantini, presently head coach of the U.S. team for the Rio Olympics, was India’s chief coach from early 2009 till the end of 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Under Massimo Constantini’s (left) supervision, India finished the 2010 Commonwealth Games with five medals, including a gold and a silver.   -  K. Ananthan

Come September, Italian Massimo Constantini will reunite with the Indian table tennis team by taking over as the Chief coach.

Constantini, presently head coach of the U.S. team for the Rio Olympics, was India’s chief coach from early 2009 till the end of 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Under Constantini’s supervision, India finished the Games with five medals, including a gold and a silver.

The Table Tennis of India Secretary General Dhanraj Choudhary said the opinion of the top Indian players tilted the scales in favour of the 58-year old.

“Our players were looking for a coach with whom they could find a certain comfort level. So we decided to look at some of those whom we had already hired once. We discussed coaches like Aleksey Yefremov (Belarus), Benone Cristian Grigore (Sweden) and Hubert Hustche (France).”

It may be recalled that all these coaches, by turn, served as India’s chief coach, in the past 12 years.

In 2004-2005, Hustche was hired by the TTFI. In 2005, Grigore took over from Hustche and continued till the end of the 2006 season. Yefremov was in-charge during 2007-2008.

Sharath Kamal, who, along with Subhajit Saha, won the men’s doubles’ gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games when Constantini was the coach, said, “He is a great guy to work with. He has the experience and knows us all very well. As a result, he won’t need time to get used to our players and our system.”

Mr. Choudhary was keen on having the services of Constantini till the end of the 2020 Olympic Games. “His first major goal will be to prepare the team for the next Asian Games,” he said.

Looking ahead, the TTFI also plans to hire two Korean coaches for training juniors in the country. Mr. Choudhary said, “We are waiting to hear from our Koran counterparts. Once the two coaches arrive, we plan to have one of them at Indore, which is now the hub of activities for the juniors. The other coach will be made available to any state association that wishes to hold camps for the juniors. The idea is the provide quality coaching at levels possible.”