Men’s World No. 8 Simon Gauzy, Chinese Taipei’s legend Chih Yuan Chuang top draws for CEAT UTT Season 2
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra to lead Indian pool for the upcoming season
World No. 8 and France’s top player Simon Gauzy, Chinese Taipei’s legendary Chih Yuan Chuang and ITTF Europe’s Top 16 women’s winner Bernadette Szocs will be the top draws in a star-studded field for the second edition of the CEAT UTT, the country’s top table tennis tournament, starting on June 14.
The organisers announced this here on Thursday, revealing that 24 premier players from across the world have signed up to compete in the 18-day long event, approved by the Table Tennis Federation of India.
The Indian pool, comprising a total of the 28 best players in the country, will be led by World No. 49 Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, winner of the ITTF Challenger Spanish Open, and Sharath Kamal, 8-time National Champion.
“We are very excited to sign up Simon Gauzy for the CEAT UTT. Some of the best players in the world will be seen in action during the tournament,” Vita Dani, the chairperson of 11Sports, said.
Gauzy has been in tremendous form all through the season gone by, finishing second at the ITTF World Tour — Australia Open and picking up a bronze medal at the ITTF Europe’s Top 16 event. He even beat current World no. 1 Timo Boll on his way to the medal to underline his rising stature in the sport.
Chinese Taipei’s ace paddler Chih Yuan Chuang, the Grand Tour Champion in 2002, is a legend back home and is credited with the rise of TT in the Taiwanese region.
Apart from Bernadette Szocs of Romania, teen sensation Adriana Diaz from Puerto Rico is expected to set the tables on fire. Diaz is just 17 years old and is already making waves with her wins on the TT circuit.
Other notable names include World No. 11 Doo Hoi Kem from Hong Kong and 2017 ITTF India Open winner Sakura Mori from Japan. Stars making a return for the second edition of the CEAT UTT include Aruna Quadri, Joao Monteiro, Kou Lei, Liam Pitchford, Tiago Apolonia, Doo Hoi Kem, Lee Ho Ching, Sabine Winter and Sofia Polcanova.
In addition to the star power of Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal, Indian fans will hope that Sanil Shetty, Soumyajit Ghosh, Anthony Amalraj and Harmeet Desai will continue with their giant-killing ways like they did last year.
World No. 2 junior paddler (U-18), Manav Thakkar will also be back for his second season in the CEAT UTT. He is in great form having won the Slovenia Junior and Cadet Open, as well as the India Junior and Cadet Open 2017 in the U-18 category.
Manika Batra, Madhurika Patkar and National Champion Sutirtha Mukherjee will lead the list of 14 women from the country. They will be joined by Arjuna Awardee Mouma Das who created history along with Manika Batra in Germany by becoming the first Indian pair to reach the quarterfinals of the World Table Tennis Championships.
The young and talented bunch of paddlers like Archana Kamath, Sreeja Akula, Moumita Dutta, Ahyika Mukherjee, Prapti Sen and Selena Selvakumar will look forward to play alongside and against some of the best paddlers in the world.
The table tennis extravaganza comprises of six franchisees with eight players — four men and four women — an equal mix of overseas and Indian players, apart from a foreign and an Indian coach, in each team.
Men: 1. Simon Gauzy (France, World No. 8), 2. Kristian Karlsson (Sweden, World No. 17), 3. Chih Yuan Chuang (Chinese Taipei, World No. 18), 4. Aruna Quadri (Nigeria, World No. 22), 5. Mattias Karlsson (Sweden, World No. 31), 6. Kou Lei (Ukraine, World No.35), 7. Masaki Yoshida (Japan, World No.36), 8. Tiago Apolonia (Portugal, World No.37), 9. Cedric Nuytinck (Belgium, World No.38), 10. Alvaro Robles (Spain, World No. 50), 11. Liam Pitchford (England, World No. 53) 12. Joao Monteiro (Portugal, World No. 55)
Women: 1. Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong, World No. 11), 2. Lee Ho Ching (Hong Kong, World No. 13), 3. Sakura Mori (Japan, World No. 19), 4. Sofia Polcanova (Austria, World No. 21), 5. Elizabeta Samara (Romania, World No. 22), 6. Bernadette Szocs (Romania, World No. 27) 7. Georgina Pota (Hungary, World No. 31), 8. Matilda Ekholm (Sweden, World No. 37), 9. Adriana Diaz (Puerto Rico, World No. 40), 10. Lily Zhang (USA, World No. 56), 11. Sabine Winter (Germany, World No. 59), 12. Hana Matelova (Czech Republic, World No. 67)
1. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, 2. Soumyajit Ghosh, 3. Harmeet Desai, 4. Sharath Kamal Achanta, 5. Sanil Shetty, 6. Amalraj Anthony, 7. Arjun Ghosh
1. Manav Thakkar, 2. Ronit Bhanja, 3. Jeet Chandra, 4. Siddhesh Pande, 5. Utkarsh Gupta, 6. Sanish Ambekar, 7. Ravindra Kotiyan
1. Manika Batra, 2. Mouma Das, 3. Madhurika Patkar, 4. Pooja Sahasrabudhe, 5. Suthirtha Mukherjee, 6. Ankita Das, 7. Divya Deshpande
1. Archana Kamath, 2. Sreeja Akula, 3. Ayhika Mukherjee, 4. Moumita Dutta, 5. Selena Selvakumar, 6. Prapti Sen, 7. Priyadarshini Das