UTT leaves an impact on Tischtennis Bundesliga

The starting date of Tischtennis Bundesliga has been postponed to accomodate a request from its Indian counterpart, Ultimate table tennis.

Sharath Kamal (L) and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (R) will play for Chennai Lions and Dabang Delhi, respectively, in Ultimate Table Tennis 2019.   -  Getty Images

Germany's Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL) table tennis league has postponed its 2019 starting date from August 9 to August 16. This allows Indian internationals Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan, who are contracted to German clubs, to play the full season for their respective Indian franchises in the third edition of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), to be held in New Delhi between July 25 and August 11.

The decision also resolves the uncertainty over participation of other foreign pros from the Bundesliga.

The TTBL was scheduled to begin on August 9, two days before the UTT season three final. However, there was a "prompt and positive" response from the German league's organiser to an email from 11 Sports, the promoter of UTT, informed Kamlesh Mehta, former table tennis ace and director of 11Sports.

He said: “The UTT decided on the 2019 dates last November and in February this year we came to know from our players about the German league decision to start from August 9. Aware of the strict Bundesliga rules about contracted players not allowed to play in leagues elsewhere, we got in touch for a way to ensure participation of top Indian and foreign players here and also fulfill club commitments in Germany.”

READ | UTT: Chennai Lions picks Kamal, RP-SG Mavericks goes for Manika Batra

Mehta added: “The reply mail from the General Manager informed us about UTT being followed by them (Bundesliga) for the last two years. Mr Nico stated that since both leagues were promoting the sport, they were open to the idea of adjusting dates. The Bundesliga will start a week later (August 16) and players will join based on respective club match dates.”

Sharath Kamal, who was picked by Chennai Lions in the UTT 2019 player draft, was the first Indian star to sign up for a German club. Sathiyan, who followed in Sharath's footsteps, was retained by Dabang Delhi.

Other Indians are attempting to get into foreign leagues, inspired by Sharath and Sathiyan success.

Kamlesh Mehta named Anthony Amalraj among the hopefuls, whose showing in the Indian league will be useful in career breakthroughs. “Indian players are respected in foreign leagues. Watching them first-hand in the UTT will motivate our kids to get better.”

German paddlers Sabine Winler (Puneri Paltan), Petrissa Solja (Chennai Lions) and Benedikt Duda (Mavericks Kolkata) will also feature in UTT 2019.