In a league of its own, TT set for big lift

Chennai will be hosting the first and the longest leg of the UTT —starting Thursday— with Sharath Kamal-led RP-SG Mavericks taking on Chennai-based outfit Falcons TTC at the Nehru Indoor Stadium.

Preparations are on at the Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday.   -  M. Vedhan

Come Thursday, 24 of India’s top paddlers will play alongside their foreign counterparts in the Ceat Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league. A league of its own, it will feature six teams, each of which will comprise of a combination of overseas and Indian players — four men and four women – along with one Indian and one foreign coach each.

The contest will be attended by 24 overseas players including men’s World No. 8 Wong Chun Ting and women’s World No. 9 Han Ying.

Chennai will be hosting the first and the longest leg of the league—starting Thursday—with Sharath Kamal-led RP-SG Mavericks taking on Chennai-based outfit Falcons TTC at the Nehru Indoor Stadium.

Some of the interesting matches on the opening day could feature usual suspect Kamal, facing world No.41 Par Gerrel, and 44th-ranked Sofia Polcanova playing against 13th-ranked Wu Yang. The mixed doubles combinations will add an interesting element to the tie.

The tournament offers upcoming Indian players like Sanil Shetty, Harmeet Desai and Soumyajit Ghosh a chance to rub shoulders with some of the best in the sport and also gives them unlimited access to the coaching resources of renowned overseas coaches such as Elena Timina and Peter Engel.

An interesting fact is that the field of 24 foreign players includes 21 Olympians, thus making it a great learning opportunity for local players.

Unique format

The league offers a little twist to the match and scoring patterns. The format of the league would is such that each team will play nine matches in a tie, with each match consisting of three games. The player to reach 11 points first wins the game.

However, there is a twist if the scores are locked at 10-10. The following point is treated a 'Golden Point'— whoever wins the next point wins the game. At the end of all the match-ups, the team to win 14 or more games out of a total of 27 is declared as the winner of the tie.

The Golden Point rule has replaced the ‘deuce’ concept and will allow for further intense and exciting games. Apart from this rule, the other unique aspect of the league is that it will host mixed doubles matches, which is a fairly novel and relatively unknown concept.

While the UTT has been touted as a revolution for the sport in India, it is to be seen if the league format, which has done wonders for other sports, can boost the presence of the game and unearth more local talent.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :