New Delhi, July 24: The third edition of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) is set for a grand beginning, with defending champions Dabang Delhi T.T.C. clashing with Puneri Paltan TT in a high-voltage opening encounter here on Thursday (July 24).
India's top players and a number of foreign stars will battle it out over the next three weeks with an eye on the cash purse of Rs 2 crore, with the winners taking home a cool Rs 75 lakh.
Sathiyan G. (Dabang Delhi), Manika Batra (RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata), Sharath Kamal (Chennai Lions) and Harmeet Desai (Puneri Paltan) will hope to play the key roles in a rejigged format that places the onus on Indian players.
UTT is enriched with the presence of World No. 8 Cheng I-Ching of Chinese Taipei (Goa Challengers) and World No. 12 Doo Hoi Kem of Hong Kong (U Mumba TT) among the women and Chinese Taipei's Chuang Chih-Yuan (Puneri Paltan), Kirill Gerassimenko (U Mumba TT) and Benedikt Duda (RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata) among men.
Among the six teams in the fray, three of them (Puneri Paltan TT, Chennai Lions and U Mumba TT) will be making their debut while Goa Challengers have rechristened themselves.
In the opening match, Sathiyan-led Delhi will go all out to begin their title defence when they take on Puneri Paltan that boast of the recently-concluded Commonwealth TT gold medalists Harmeet Desai and Ayhika Mukherjee.
In the shorter format this year, each team will play five ties - compared to seven last year - with a match decided over three games. If the scores are tied at 10-all, a golden point shall decide the winner. The order of the play will be women's singles, men's singles, mixed doubles, men's singles and women's singles.
Also for the first time, the UTT will adopt the city-based league culture, with all six teams from different cities. The league will be played on a round-robin cum knockout format, with the semis on August 9 and 10 and the final on August 11.
What TTFI president had to say:
Table Tennis Federation of India working president Dr Prem Verma expressed happiness as the top stars gather in the capital for the three-week extravaganza. "I feel immensely happy to see table tennis grow leaps and bounds in recent times. Having a league like the UTT that combines the best of talent and skill, makes it a great platform for youngsters to flourish. It will also boost India's Olympic medal hopes," he said.
The matches will be telecast live on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1HD, Star Sports Select 1, Star Sports Select 1HD and streamed on Hotstar & JioTV.
Dates: 25th July to 11th August
Semi Finals: August 9 and 10
Final: August 11
Venue: Thyagraj Stadium, New Delhi
Prize Money: Total Rs 2 crore
Winners: Rs 75 Lakh
Runners-up: Rs 50 Lakh
Loser of each semi-final: Rs 25 Lakh
Other individual award winners (Total Purse): Rs 25 Lakh
Dabang Delhi T.T.C.: Sathiyan G. (India), Bernadette Szocs (Romania), Jon Persson (Sweden), Parth Virmani (India), Naina (India), Krittwika Sinha Roy (India)
Puneri Paltan Table Tennis: Chuang Chih-Yuan (Chinese Taipei), Harmeet Desai (India), Ayhika Mukherjee (India), Selena Selvakumar (India), Ronit Bhanja (India), Sabine Winter (Germany)
Chennai Lions: Sharath Kamal (India), Petrissa Solja (Germany), Tiago Apolonia (Portugal), Madhurika Patkar (India), Yashini Sivasankar (India), Anirban Ghosh (India)
RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata: Manika Batra (India), Benedikt Duda (Germany), Matilda Ekholm (Sweden), Manush Shah (India), Prapti Sen (India), Sanil Shetty (India)
U Mumba TT: Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong), Manav Thakkar (India), Sutirtha Mukherjee (India), Kirill Gerassimenko (Kazakhstan), Jeet Chandra (India), Moumita Dutta (India)
Goa Challengers: Cheng I-Ching (Chinese Taipei), Archana Kamath (India), Amalraj Anthony (India), Siddhesh Pande (India), Shruti Amrute (India), Alvaro Robles (Spain).