New Delhi: India’s premiere table tennis league, Ultimate Table Tennis, is all set for its fourth season, scheduled to be held at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge-Balewadi, in Pune from July 13 to July 30. Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) Season 4 is set to Showcase India’s Table Tennis Talent in Pune.
Pune is gearing up to host the fourth season of India’s premier table tennis league, Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Mahalunge-Balewadi from July 13 to July 30. Organised under the auspices of the Table Tennis Federation of India, UTT has emerged as a game-changer for Indian table tennis since its inception in 2017, not only providing a platform for world-class table tennis action but also highlighting the immense talent of emerging Indian players.
The franchise-based league, under the auspices of the Table Tennis Federation of India, has been a game-changer for Indian table tennis since its inspection in 2017. Going beyond providing a platform for world-class table tennis action, the league has been instrumental in showcasing the immense talent of emerging Indian players.
In the inaugural season of UTT, rising stars like Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Manav Thakkar, Sutirtha Mukherjee, and Manika Batra come to the fore.
The league features some of the top table tennis players from around the world, and India has its fair share of talented players in the mix. Here are the top 7 Indian players to watch out for in Season 4:
1. Achanta Sharath Kamal (WR 54, Chennai Lions): Besides his four Olympic appearances, Sharath Kamal is also a 10-time national champion. He and Manika Batra won a historic bronze at the 2018 Asian Games. In Season 3 of UTT, Sharath secured the championship title for the Chennai Lions by defeating Sathiyan Gnanasekaran’s Dabang Delhi TTC in the final. Retained by the Chennai Lions for Season 4, Sharath has been part of all editions of UTT. He is known for his right-handed shakehand grip and his mental toughness. Gold and silver medalist at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, he has also been awarded the Khel Ratna, the Arjuna Award, and the Padma Shri.
2. Manika Batra (WR 38, Bengaluru Smashers): Manika Batra is a table tennis player with many firsts. She became the first Indian to win a medal (bronze) while partnering Achanta Sharath Kamal at the Asian Games in 2018. In 2022, she became the first woman to win an Asian Cup medal—a bronze. She bagged two gold medals, silver, and a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Currently ranked 38th in the world, Manika has achieved notable success. In the second season of UTT, she played a vital role in leading the Dabang Delhi TTC team to victory alongside Sathiyan Gnanasekaran. She will turn out for the Bengaluru Smashers in the forthcoming edition.
3. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (WR 60, Dabang Delhi TTC): Sathiyan Gnanasekaran achieved a career-best world ranking of 24 in 2019, making him the first Indian paddler to break into the world top 25. He has also participated in international leagues in Japan and France. He was a key member of the Indian team that won gold medals at the 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games. Sathiyan stunned World No. 8 Wong Chun Ting of Hong Kong in an Ultimate Table Tennis match between Dabang Smashers and DHFL in UTT Season 1. The Arjuna awardee spearheaded Dabang Delhi TTC’s title charge in UTT Season 3, helping them reach the finals. He was retained by the publisher for the upcoming edition after having participated in every edition so far.
4. Manav Thakkar (WR 107; U Mumba TT): Former World No. 1 in the U-18 and U-21 ITTF Men’s rankings, Manav Thakkar is a rising star on the Indian table tennis circuit. After starting his journey at a young age, Manav achieved success at the Asian Championships with a bronze medal. He was retained by U Mumba TT for UTT Season 4 after having participated in three UTT editions already. With several podium finishes in prestigious tournaments, Manav continues to showcase his potential.
5. Sreeja Akula (WR 99, Dabang Delhi TTC): In 2022, Sreeja Akula became the first Telangana woman to clinch the senior national title and also ended the state’s 58-year-old medal drought. The 24-year-old maintained her dominance on the domestic circuit and successfully defended her crown earlier this year. She was part of the Indian squad that won gold in the mixed doubles event with Sharath Kamal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. She also won gold in the women’s doubles and women’s team events at the 2019 South Asian Games. Although Sreeja has only participated in one edition of UTT, she was naturally Dabang Delhi TTC’s first pick.
6. Sutirtha Mukherjee (WR 116) has been a standout performer for the defending champions, the Chennai Lions. Her stunning victory over World No. 9 Cheng I-Ching in UTT Season 3 catapulted her career to new heights. With three gold medals at the South Asian Games in 2019 and a recent doubles title at the WTT Contender in Tunis, Sutirtha is ready to extend her impressive run in Season 4.
7. Harmeet Desai, a 29-year-old paddler hailing from Surat, Gujarat, has established himself as a consistent performer in the sport. Recognised for his exceptional skills, Harmeet’s impressive track record includes being part of the gold-winning squad in the men’s team event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and repeating the feat at the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham. His outstanding performances were not limited to the Commonwealth Games, as he showcased his talent in the 2019 South Asian Games held in Kathmandu, where he secured gold medals in men’s doubles, mixed doubles, and men’s team events.
As the Bengaluru Smashers, Chennai Lions, Dabang Delhi TTC, Goa Challengers, Puneri Paltan Table Tennis, and U Mumba TT compete for the championship, all of the live action will be televised on Sports 18 and streamed on JioCinema. Create a news report.