Defending champs Falcons TTC retain Soumyadeep Roy, RP-SG Mavericks opt for Arup Basak in CEAT UTT coaches’ draft pick

Defending champions Falcons TTC chose to go with their winning coach for the second edition of the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis League, opting for Soumyadeep Roy in the draft pick for coaches here on Monday afternoon.

The high-profile event, conducted under the watchful eyes of Ernst & Young and attended by Table Tennis Federation of India’s (TTFI) senior vice-president Rajeev Bodas, Co-Owner of CEAT UTT Mrs. Vita Dani and the six team owners, set the ball rolling for the June 14-July 1 league.

The Falcons TTC, who got the opportunity to choose their coach first after the draw of lots, wasted no time in opting for the 34-year-old 2006 Commonwealth Games’ gold medallist who is now the coach of the Indian team.

The Yoddhas, who were next in line, swooped in on Hungary’s Ferenc Karsai, a coach with over 25 years’ of experience at the highest level. He was at the helm for DHFL Maharashtra United last season.

Interestingly, the RP-SG Mavericks too showed faith in an Indian, opting for Arup Basak as their first choice coach. The Challengers and the Yoddhas managed to get back their previous coaches, A Muralidhara Rao and Sandeep Gupta, to make it a grand day for Indians.

In an exciting format that tested the teams’ ability to quickly think and fine-tune their strategies on their feet, the six teams were required to pick one foreign and one Indian coach each.

“This is a great start to the second edition of CEAT UTT. The six franchises have carefully chosen their coaches who have all coached world class teams and individual champions,” TTFI’s Bodas said. “The league is proving to be a huge boon for India’s players, competing against some of the best players in the world and learning from such wonderful coaches,” he added.

The Challengers, Dabang Smashers T.T.C and DHFL Maharashtra United opted for Peter Engel (Germany), Andrei Filimon (Romania) and Francisco Santos (Portugal) respectively to complete Round 1.

In the next round, the order was reversed, mandating DHFL Maharashtra United to pick the best available Indian coach. They zeroed in on N Ravichandran.

Sachin Shetty, Elena Timina of Netherlands and Slovenia’s Vesna Ojstersek were chosen by Dabang Smashers T.T.C, RP-SG Mavericks and Falcons TTC in the second round.

“We are delighted that as many as 11 out of 12 coaches have returned for the second edition of the UTT. It shows that they enjoyed their stints here and that the UTT has made an impact on the world stage,” Mrs Dani said. “The combination of a foreign and a national coach has worked extremely well for the franchises and I am sure we are going to have an exciting league once again,” she added.

The coaches will have enough time to strategize for the upcoming season ahead of the players’ draft next month.

The inaugural edition of India’s first ever professional table tennis league in association with TTFI was well received by the table tennis fraternity nationally and internationally. The second edition will be played in 3 different cities. Each franchise will comprise a combination of overseas and Indian players — four men and four women.

The coaches line-up (Indian names first)

Falcons TTC: Soumyadeep Roy & Vesna Ojstersek (Slovenia)

Yoddhas: Sandeep Gupta & Ferenc Karsai (Hungary)

RP-SG Mavericks: Arup Basak & Elena Timina (Netherlands)

Challengers: A. Muralidhara Rao & Peter Engel (Germany)

Dabang Smashers T.T.C: Sachin Shetty & Andrei Filimon (Romania)

DHFL Maharashtra United: N Ravichandran & Francisco Santos (Portugal)