World No.8 Wong looking forward to UTT

Wong Chun Ting, one of the few practitioners of the pen-hold grip in the world, will be the highest ranked player in the inaugural season of the Ultimate Table Tennis League.

Wong’s best performance in men's singles has been a bronze medal in the World Cup last year in Saarbrucken, Germany.    -  AFP

It was a fascinating sight to see two world-class players practice from close quarters. 
Sparring at the former National singles champion S. Raman’s High Performance Centre here on Sunday were Joao Monteiro, ranked 48 in the world and Wong Chun Ting, who is ranked eighth.

Here for the Ultimate Table Tennis League (UTT) beginning on July 13, the two paddlers representing Maharashtra United trained for two hours at the Centre, giving a brief glimpse of what it takes to be ‘there’.

Playing long attacking rallies from the back of the table Monteiro and Wong took one’s breath away for the sheer scale of accuracy and speed. 

“It’s nice to be back in India after eight years,” began Wong, the top-ranked player in the UTT, in a chat with Sportstar. Recalling his experiences during his first visit for the 2009 Asian junior championship in Jaipur as “so-so with poor air-conditioning.” 

Wong, however, said this time the UTT would be really great as the hotel and other arrangements have been really good which are the pre-requisites for hosting a world class tournament.

As one of the few practitioners of pen-hold grip in the world, Wong believes the grip gives him an added advantage when the ball is played short. “That way I can control the opponent better,” he said. 

Wong’s best performance in men's singles has been a bronze medal in the World Cup last year in Saarbrucken, Germany. 

In fact, he is quite proficient in doubles, too. He won his first doubles title on the ITTF World Tour in 2012 and won three more doubles titles in 2014. In the next year, he won a bronze medal in mixed doubles event with Doo Hoi Kem at the World championships. In the recently concluded World championship in Dusseldorf, Wong partnered Doo again to bag the mixed doubles bronze. 

All this will come in handy at the UTT which does have a mixed doubles event sandwiched between eight singles matches--four men's and four women's singles.

For Wong, the Dusseldorf world championship was a “half happy-half sad experience.” Having lost in the singles event in the quarterfinals was not an enjoyable one. “I know I can play better [that that].”

The Hong Kong player is aiming to break into the top 5 by next year, and a bag a medal in the 2018 Asian Games.

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