Mumbai, May 19 (IANS) Ace paddler Quadri Aruna will spearhead a strong players line-up for season four of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), which will also feature Indian stars like Achanta Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra.
One of Africa’s greatest table tennis players, Aruna, who is currently ranked 12th in the world and played the first two seasons of UTT makes his return to India for a third time.
Besides Aruna, World No. 32 Benedikt Duda of Germany, World No. 34 Omar Assar of Egypt, Alvaro Robles of Spain, who won a Doubles Silver at the 2019 World Championships will also be part of Season 4, scheduled to be held at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune from July 13-30.
USA’s Lily Zhang (WR24), Australia’s Yangzi Liu (WR32), Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut (WR33) and Barbora Balazova of Slovakia (WR44) will be the international women’s players in the draft pool, a media release said.
Veteran paddler Sharath Kamal who holds the record of 10 nationals titles, Sathiyan who is India’s top ranked men’s player at the moment (WR51) and World No. 39 Batra will headline the Indian line-up along with some of the promising young talents such as reigning national champion Sreeja Akula, who has just won back-to-back Nationals Titles, U-19 boys national title holder Payas Jain, Diya Chitale, S Fidel R Snehit and Ankur Bhattacharjee.
The upcoming season will feature six teams: Bengaluru Smashers, Chennai Lions, Dabang Delhi TTC, Goa Challengers, Puneri Paltan Table Tennis and U Mumba TT.
After recently picking their coaches at the UTT Season 4 Coach Draft, each franchise will now look to build a strong six-member squad at the UTT Season 4 Player Draft to be held in Mumbai next month.
From a pool of 40 available players, each team can choose two foreigners — one male and one female and four Indians — two male and two female. Every team has the right to retain one player from the previous season.
The franchise-based league is promoted by Niraj Bajaj and Vita Dani under the auspices of the Table Tennis Federation of India.