Aruna Quadri will be the only African again competing in the season two of the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis in India as the Nigerian has been listed among the 19 foreigners competing in the lucrative league holding in three Indian cities – Pune, Delhi and Kolkata.
Quadri who competed in the maiden edition as the only player from Africa has been teamed up with Indian legend – Sharath Achanta to form the Warriors TTC coached by India’s R. Rajesh and Hungarian ace, Ferenc Karsai.
Described by the organizers as African sensation – Aruna Quadri stays and leads the foreign contingent, which include Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, and Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova to complete the foreign quota.
Indian star player – Achanta leads the way for the Indian players in the team. Achanta will be joined by Pooja Sahasrabudhe, Sreeja Akula and Ravindra Kotiyan, who are three of Indian table tennis’ brightest stars to occupy the domestic spots.
The CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis Powered by Kellogg’s promises 18 days of trailblazing table tennis across Pune, Delhi and Kolkata starting June 14, 2018.
The second season promises to take the sport to greater heights and newer audiences as six franchises will battle it out for the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis trophy, with Falcons TTC coming in as the defending champions.
The CEAT UTT Powered by Kellogg’s, is an initiative by 11Sports with the support of Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).
Frenchman Simon Gauzy (World No. 12) and Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem (World No. 13) are among the top-ranked foreign players in the glitzy league featuring six teams– Empowerji Challengers, Dabang Smashers T.T.C, Falcons TTC, Maharashtra United, RP-SG Mavericks and Warriors T.T.C.
Players from 19 different nationalities will be competing in the league and amongst them are 24 Olympians, 19 National champions and 17 No. 1 ranked players of their respective countries.
During the league phase spread over 15 days, each team will play the other once with six ties each in Pune and Delhi. Kolkata will play host to three league ties besides the semi-finals and the grand finale on July 1.
Maharashtra United, whose roster boasts the likes of Anthony Amalraj along with Swede Kristian Karlsson (World No. 18) and Romanian Elizabeta Samara (World No. 19), face a stiff challenge first up as they line up against defending champions Falcons TTC who are spearheaded by Sanil Shetty and another top Swede in Matilda Ekholm (World No. 30) on the inaugural day at the Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune.
High-voltage action is on the cards on the second day when Empowerji Challengers, who possess top-ranked players in Gauzy, Manav Thakkar (World Junior No. 2) and Hong Kong’s Lee Ho Ching (World No. 20), clash with an equally quality side RP-SG Mavericks, who have World No. 20 Mattias Karlsson (Sweden), Doo Hoi Kem and Mouma Das in their ranks.
CWG double gold medallist Manika Batra will step up to the table on the third day when her team Dabang Smashers T.T.C., that includes Sakura Mori (World No 28) and G Sathiyan, lines up against Warriors T.T.C. (formerly Yoddhas) comprising Sharath Kamal, World No. 15 Chuang Chih-Yuan (Chinese Taipei), World No. 22 Aruna Quadri (Nigeria) and World No. 18 Sofia Polcanova (Austria).
The teams will be aiming for an early lead as they play their second ties in the next three days of action before heading to the Capital.
Delhi fans get an opportunity to root for their home grown star Manika as Dabang Smashers will lock horns with RP-SG Mavericks in the first tie at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex. The next five days are expected to throw up some exciting fare as teams will be looking to log maximum points.
The proceedings at Kolkata’s Netaji Indoor Stadium begin with the Empowerji Challengers facing Dabang Smashers TTC. The penultimate day of the League will see Maharashtra United taking on Warriors T.T.C while RP-SG Mavericks meet Falcons TTC on June 28.
After the league stage, the first and fourth-placed teams will play the first semi-final on June 29 while the second and third-placed teams play the second semi-final the next day. The final will be on July 1.