Achanta Sharath Kamal will don the jersey of the
RP-SG Mavericks for the inaugural Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), the six-team franchise-based league to be played next month. Sharath was picked by the franchise during the Player Draft, conducted in Mumbai on Friday.
Sharath, 44th in the world rankings list, will lead the charge of the team owned by the Kolkata-based RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group along with World No. 19 Stefan Fegrel of Austria and World No. 22 Tiago Apolonia of Portugal. Maharashtra United , owned by the Rajesh Wadhwan Group, latched on to Hong Kong's Wong Chun Ting, the highest-ranked men's player, at No. 7, who will feature in the tournament to be played from July 13 to 30.
According to Vita Dani, chairperson of 11Even Sports Pvt. Ltd. , promoters of UTT, a central pool model as been adapted for the model. As a result, each of the six franchises has been sold for Rs. 2.6 crore for the first year. The cost will include all the operation and logistical costs, excluding the coaches' fees. The champion will receive prize money of ₹1 crore, with the runners-up and losing semifinalists taking home ₹75 lakh and ₹50 lakh, respectively. An additional ₹25 lakh will be awarded to individual performers, thus making the total prize purse of ₹3 crore.
Dani added that the 48 players featuring in the tournament, including 24 Indians and as many overseas paddlers, have been contracted for fees ranging from ₹1.5 lakh to ₹20 lakh.
Niraj Bajaj, the former National champion and Arjune Award recipient, hoped the tournament will kick-start the revival of table tennis into a “crowd-puller” sport. Kamlesh Mehta, director of 11Even Sports , stressed that besides financial rewards, the tournament will help “Indian paddlers in competing against and spending time with the best of the international paddlers and coaches”.
RP-SG Mavericks: Stefan Fegerl (Austria), A. Sharath Kamal (India), Tiago Apolonia (Portugal), Sofia Polcanova (Austria), Sabine Winter (Germany), Archana Kamath, Birdie Boro, Amrutha Pushpak (all India).
Coaches: Peter Engel (Germany), Sachin Shetty (India)
Maharashtra United: Wong Chun Ting (Hong Kong), Liu Jia (Austria), Yu Fu (Portugal), Harmeet Desai (India), Joao Monterio (Portugal), Krittwika Sinha Roy, Pooja Sahasrabudhe, Ronit Bhanja (all India).
Coaches: Ferenc Karsai (Hungary), Arup Basak (India)
Dabang Smashers T.T.C: Marcos Freitas (Portugal), Hu Melek (Turkey), Kou Lei (Ukraine), G. Sathiyan, A. Amalraj, Madhurika Patkar, Mousumi Paul (all India), Tetyana Bilenko (Ukraine).
Coaches: Ilija Lupulesku (USA), N. Ravichandran (India)
Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas: Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong), Panagitis Gionis (Greece), Aruna Quadri (Nigeria), Manika Batra (India), Polina Mikhailova (Russia), Jubin Kumar, Abhishek Yadav, Selena Selvakumar (all India).
Coaches: Vesna Ojstersek (Slovenia) , Sandeep Gupta (India)
Bayside Spinners T.T.C.: Wu Yang (China), Lee Ho Ching (Hong Kong), Par Gerell (Sweden), Sanil Shetty (India), Liam Pitchford (England), Sutirtha Mukherjee, Arjun Ghosh, Priyadarshani Das (all India).
Coaches: Francisco Santos (Portugal), Soumyadeep Roy (India)
Challengers: Han Ying (Germany), Petrissa Solja (Germany), Soumyajit Ghosh (India), Andrej Gacina (Croatia), Mouma Das, Manav Thakkar, Moumita Dutta (all India), Li Ping (Qatar).
Coaches: Elena Timina (Netherlands), Muralidhara Rao (Challengers).