Table tennis is one of the most popular indoor sports in India and is favoured by a large section of the Indian population, however, the sport is yet to achieve a significant amount of success at a commercial level. With the successful introduction of the franchise-based league system of the Indian Premier League for sports like Football, Kabaddi, Badminton etc., the Ultimate Table Tennis is expected to be the next big thing. Just like kabaddi, table tennis has a lot of takers in society and has immense potential for success in the Indian market. The 2019 edition of the Ultimate Table Tennis will be the third season for the league, which continues to grow further.
UTT 2019 is slated to start from 25th July and is expected to go till the first few weeks of August. The final will be played on August 11. The opening match takes place at New Delhi between the defending champions Dabang Delhi and the league’s newcomers Puneri Paltan.
The Ultimate Table Tennis is organised and run by 11Sports owned by Niraj Bajaj and Vita Dani, who is also the co-owner of ISL franchise Chennaiyin FC. The league also received support from some big names from the corporate world, which include Sanjeev Goenka who owns the RP-SG Mavericks franchisee and Radha Kapoor’s DoIT Sports Management, which runs Dabang Smashers. The league is contributing significantly at the grassroots level.
11Sports sponsors all the national ranking tournaments in India. They also conduct inter-school competitions and a couple of city-based leagues, while supporting academies. They have even conducted a coaching program in 11 BMC schools for free of cost. The company is also in talks with Sports Authority of India to run a table tennis excellence centre in Kandivali, Mumbai for quite some time now.
With the finale of the Ultimate Table Tennis being played on August 11, it was likely to coincide with the Tischtennis Bundesliga, which would have affected the availability of ineternationally playing Indians like, Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan alongside several foreign players who were to participate in the tournament. However, the Tischtennis Bundesliga promptly postponed their tournament upon the request of their Indian counterparts, displaying good spirit.
A single match will be held on a match day, which will be on a daily basis.
This year’s edition will see the introduction of two new teams. The teams in the UTT 2019 are: Chennai Lions, Dabang Delhi, Puneri Paltan (debutant), RP-SG Mavericks, U Mumba (debutant) and Goa Challengers (formerly Empowerji Challengers).
All eyes will be on the Indian duo of Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan, the latter having been retained by the defending champions Dabang Delhi. Much is also expected from German paddlers Sabine Winkler (Puneri Paltan), Petrissa Solja (Chennai Lions) and Benedikt Duda (Mavericks Kolkata).