Coaches give UTT a thumbs up, say it’s the right way forward for Indian table tennis to improve
“I am really thrilled to see many of the Indian players progress so well though some of them are beating players from my team,” Peter Engel expressed jovially. The 63-year-old German, who was part of the RP-SG Mavericks team at the recently concluded CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis, was part of the Indian contingent in 2014 and as national coach, he was responsible for guiding top guns in table tennis to some memorable feats.
Coming back to India for the first-ever professional league, Engel admitted that the table tennis movement in India is headed in the right direction. “Professional leagues are a great step forward in terms of bringing the right exposure to your players. While there are many Indians who are playing regularly in the Europeans leagues, it is important to have a league of this kind in India to create the excitement around the sport and the Ultimate Table Tennis has achieved it to a large extent,” Engel said. “Though just hosting a league alone will not fetch great results internationally, at least, you are preparing your players to face-off with the best in the business and there is so much one can learn during the league of this kind,” he added.
Elena Timina of Netherlands who coached the Shazé Challengers to the final of the first-ever professional league categorically stated that she was impressed with the organisation of the league. “The organisers have done an exceptional job in terms of carrying out the league which is on par with the ones played in Europe. They have also put in a lot of thought behind the kind of player pool which was critical. Though we did not win the final, I am happy with the performance of our team as well as to see many Indian players hold their nerves against top international stars. While I think the Indian men are already on par with international standards, the women can benefit a lot from leagues like these. They have great talent but need to pay more attention to their fitness levels,” expressed Timina who is a former international player.
Meanwhile, Indian coach Arup Basak who was with the DHFL Maharastra United expressed that this was the best platform for the Indian women to play against the best defensive paddlers in the world. “With best of the Chinese-origin players like Han Ying and Wu Yang taking part in the league, this was the best opportunity for our Indian women to learn as much because rarely do our girls ever get to train against best defensive players. Most of our Indian women are attackers and to learn to play against chopper will help them a great deal in international matches,” he said.
Sachin Shetty of RP-SG Mavericks too expressed that this platform will set the pace for the Indian players preparations for the upcoming tournaments. “Indian players will take part in the Czech Open and Bulgaria Open after the national ranking tournament in Delhi. I am sure many of them who participated at the UTT will try out different tactics they learnt during their stint at UTT during this outing and they will have enough time to adapt to these changes in their game ahead of an all-important 2018 where they play Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. A professional league like UTT was the need of the hour and I am sure this will help create a larger pool of players in the coming years,” stated Shetty, also a national coach.