Ultimate Table Tennis: Sharath Kamal to play for Yoddhas

The veteran paddler became the first Indian to be acquired during the player draft on Wednesday.

Sharath Kamal played for RP-SG Mavericks last season.   -  R. Ragu

A. Sharath Kamal, the veteran paddler, will wear the Yoddhas’ jersey during the second edition of the Ultimate Table Tennis. Sharath's move from RP-SG Mavericks to the Yoddhas was confirmed as he became the first Indian to be acquired during the player draft on Wednesday.

The tourney is scheduled to be held in June.

Sharath and other top Indian paddlers made a quick pit-stop here for the player draft before leaving for Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games later in the night. That Sharath would play for a new team was evident when the Mavericks preferred not to retain him. As a result, the Yoddhas lapped up on him early on during the draft.

Read: Indian Commonwealth Games contingent arrives at Gold Coast

Interestingly, barring the inaugural edition champion Falcons T. T. C., no other team preferred to stick to its eight-player contingent from the last year during the draft, which saw a 45-minute hold-up due to confusion over order to pick players. Falcons managed to retain four players from the last year. Having retained southpaw Sanil Shetty, the defending champion also managed to retain England's Liam Pitchford and Indian women's duo of Priyadarshini Das and national champion Sutirtha Mukherjee.

All the other five teams retained only one player each from its last year’s combination. While RP-SG Mavericks re-signed Germany's Sabine Winter, Maharashtra United opted to retain its captain Joao Monteiro of Portugal. While Yoddhas reposed its faith in Nigerian Aruna Quadri, the Challengers stuck to promising Indian junior Manav Thakkar. Dabang Smashers had retained in-form G. Sathiyan prior to the draft.

Amal hopes to be third time lucky

A. Amalraj has lived in the shadows of A. Sharath Kamal over the last decade. The seasoned paddler, making his third Commonwealth Games appearance, hopes that he can finally get his hands on the yellow metal next month in Gold Coast.

“In my first Commonwealth Games, I won a bronze, then a silver in 2014; I hope I can win a gold this time around,” said Amalraj. Amalraj was a member of India's squad that settled for a bronze in the team event in New Delhi in 2010; in 2014, he paired with Sharath to fetch Indian paddlers’ only medal from Glasgow, a silver in men's doubles.

The squads (India unless specified)
  • Challengers
  • Men: Simon Gauzy (France), Manav Thakkar, Tiago Apolonia (Portugal), Arjun Ghosh.
  • Women: Lee Ho Ching (Hong Kong), Georgina Pota (Hungary), Divya Deshpande, Prapti Sen.
  • Dabang Smashers T.T.C
  • Men: G. Sathiyan, Yoshida Masaki (Japan), Sanish Ambekar, Cedric Nuytinck (Belgium).
  • Women: Sakura Mori (Japan), Manika Batra, Adriana Diaz (Puerto Rico), Archana Kamath.
  • Falcons T. T. C.
  • Men: Sanil Shetty, Liam Pitchford (England), Alvaro Robles (Spain), Ronit Bhanja.
  • Women: Bernadette Szocs (Romania), Matilda Ekholm (Sweden), Sutirtha Mukherjee, Priyadarshini Das.
  • Maharashtra United
  • Men: Kristian Karlsson (Sweden), A. Amalraj, Joao Monteiro (Portugal), Utkarsh Gupta.
  • Women: Elizabeta Samara (Romania), Madhurika Patkar, Lily Zhang (USA), Selena Selvakumar.
  • RP-SG Mavericks
  • Men: Mattias Karlsson (Sweden), Harmeet Desai, Kou Lei (Ukraine), Siddhesh Pande.
  • Women: Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong), Ayhika Mukherjee, Mouma Das, Sabine Winter (Germany).
  • Yoddhas
  • Men: Chuang Chih-Yuan (Chinese Taipei), Achanta Sharath Kamal, Aruna Quadri (Nigeria), Ravindra Kotiyan.
  • Women: Sofia Polcanova (Austria), Hana Matelova (Czech Republic), Pooja Sahasrabudhe, Sreeja Akula.