Ace paddler Sharath Kamal will play for the Chennai Lions in the third season of the Ultimate Tennis League, which will be held in New Delhi from July 25. Kamal, a nine-time national champion, was picked by the Chennai team, a new entrant in the league, during the players draft held here Thursday.
The two other new teams in the league are U Mumba TT and Puneri Paltan Table Tennis. In a video message, Kamal said that he will try and give his best in the tournament.
Another top paddler Manika Batra was chosen by RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata, who also, in the end, opted for Sanil Shetty.
The Dabang Delhi TTC decided to retain Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and hence the franchise did not get a chance to pick a player in the first round of the draft.
The 25-year-old Sathiyan, who became the first Indian player to break into the top-25, also in a video message expressed happiness over the move.
Among other notable picks was young sensation Manush Shah, who will pay for RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata. Vadodara-born Shah is currently ranked 11th in the Under-18 boys’ category.
Each of the franchise had to pick six players. Among the notable foreign players was Hong Kong player Doo Hoi Kem, who was picked up by U Mumba TT.
German player Petrissa Solja will play for Chennai Lions along with Portuguese player Tiago Apolonia.
UTT chairperson Vita Dani told reporters that apart from federations, including the Table Tennis Federation of India, the league this year got support from Bundesliga, who have “adjusted and accommodated” with the league’s dates to avoid a clash.
This year, the format has been tweaked and there will be only five matches in a tie compared to seven in the previous season.
Also, the event will be held only in one city — in Delhi — unlike three venues last year.
Quizzed about it, Kamlesh Mehta, a former national TT champion and Director UTT, said they wanted the players to be fresh and play the best table tennis.
Chennai Lions: Sharath Kamal, Petrissa Solja, Tiago Apolonia, Madhurika Patkar, Yashini Sivasankar, Anirban Ghosh.
Dabang Delhi TTC: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Bernadette Szocs, Jon Persson, Parth Virmani, Naina, Krittwika Sinha Roy.
Goa Challengers: Cheng-I-Ching, Archana Kamath, Amalraj Anthony, Siddhesh Pandey, Shruti Amrute, Alvaro Robles.
Puneri Paltan Table Tennis: Chaung-Chih Yuan, Harmeet Desai, Ayhika Mukherjee, Selena Selvakumar, Ronit Bhanja and Sabine Winter.
RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata: Mainka Batra, Benedikt Duda, Maltida Ekholm, Manush Shah, Prapti Sen and Sanil Shetty.
U Mumba TT: Doo Hoi Kem, Manav Thakkar, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Kirill Gerassimenko, Jeet Chandra and Moumita Dutta.