Kamlesh upbeat about UTT

“I’m confident that Ultimate Table Tennis will make not only the game more popular but also the players. It is very essential to give a boost to the players’ efforts,” says former India player Kamlesh Mehta.

Kamlesh Mehta... promoting Ultimate Table Tennis.   -  Shanker Chakravarty

Arjuna Award winner and one of India’s most reputed table tennis players, Kamlesh Mehta, is stoked about the inaugural Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), which is the first of its kind.

Kamlesh, who had served as India’s captain for seven years and tormented players across the world, is now looking to boost the prospects of Indian table tennis at the global level.

“The league concept has been spreading across India in the last four-five years, but I wish there was a table tennis league earlier. However, somebody had to take the initiative, and Vita Dani encouraged me to start such a league,” said the 57-year-old Olympian, who is the director of 11Even Sports, the promoters of the event.

“We explored the idea in August 2014 and held discussions with the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI). They were very supportive and in 2015, we started working towards the formulation of UTT.”

When asked if commercialisation of this sort was necessary to provide a fillip to the sport in India, he said, “In terms of popularising the sport, yes. I’m confident that UTT will make not only the game more popular but also the players. It is very essential to give a boost to the players’ efforts.”

Commenting on the kind of presence Indian table tennis has at the global level, Kamlesh said, “We have a greater presence (in the TT circuit) now and are looked as a strong nation. Players like Sharath Kamal, Soumyajit Ghosh and Harmeet Desai have played well abroad. The youngsters and women are also coming up with good results. The TTFI is also contributing by organising a lot of international tournaments in India.”

He was also quick to mention that the game has evolved a lot since his playing days. “I’ll confidently say that this is the only sport that has evolved so much. Right from the scoring pattern, to the game pattern, to the size of the ball, to the racquets and the techniques, everything has undergone a drastic change. The Indian players have also adapted to it well,” Kamlesh said.

The participation in UTT is purely on the basis of a player’s ranking, and Kamlesh hopes that this will work as a stimulus for youngsters to perform well at the national level so that they could participate in the future editions of the league.

Talking of his role in the development of the game, Kamlesh said, “I want the game to go to the next level, and I look forward to many exciting matches in UTT.”

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