Ultimate Table Tennis | Chennai Lions has the oldest and the youngest paddlers on its roster

Ultimate Table Tennis | Chennai Lions has the oldest and the youngest paddlers on its roster

Sharath Kamal, Yashaswini Ghorpade, G. Sathiyan and Manav Thakkar, during the UTT 2024 Player draft in Mumbai.

Chennai Lions had retained the oldest member — A. Sharath Kamal — for the fifth edition of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT). On Tuesday, during the Player Draft, the team added the youngest member — P.B. Abhinandh — to its roster for the UTT’s fifth season.

Sharath — who cut a cake two days ahead of turning 42 — and Abhinandh, 16, will have a chance to showcase their talent as the Lions bid to regain the crown on home turf when the edition begins from August 22.

The Lions also have both the table tennis Padma Shri recipients in the squad, with Sharath — seated on the yellow table hours before departing for his record fifth Olympic bid — welcoming veteran Mouma Das to the fold.

Defending champion Goa Challengers had a revised look, with Australia’s Yangzi Liu — who was among the most consistent singles players in UTT 2023 — joining captain Harmeet Desai.

While PBG Bengaluru Smashers struck gold by adding Spanish southpaw Alvaro Robles and USA’s aggressive female paddler Lily Zhang along with the retained Manika Batra, the two new teams — Jaipur Patriots and Ahmedabad SG Pipers — will rely on Indian stars.

While the Patriots picked the in-form Sreeja Akula up front, the Ahmedabad outfit went for the bespectacled Manush Shah to lead its troops.

Diluted field

Even as most international stars from the last edition have given the UTT a miss this time around, three prominent Indian paddlers also pulled out of the franchise-based league. 

Archana Kamath, a member of India’s Paris-bound women’s squad, has cited personal reasons immediately after the Olympics, while promising youngsters Payas Jain and Suhana Saini will focus on improving their world junior rankings on the international circuit. 

The squads: Ahmedabad SG Pipers: Manush Shah, Bernadette Szocs (Rom), Lilian Bardet (Fra), T. Reeth Rishya, Pritha Vartikar, Jash Modi.

Chennai Lions: A. Sharath Kamal, Sakura Mori (Jpn), Jules Rolland (Fra), Poymantee Baisya, Mouma Das, P.B. Abhinandh.

Dabang Delhi TTC: G. Sathiyan, Orawan Paranang (Tha), Diya Chitale, Andreas Levenko (Aut), Yashansh Malik, Lakshita Narang.

Goa Challengers: Harmeet Desai, Yangzi Liu (Aus), Yashaswini Ghorpade, Sudhanshu Grover, Sayali Wani, Mihai Bobocica (Ita).

Jaipur Patriots: Sreeja Akula, Cho Seungmin (Kor), Suthasini Sawettabut (Tha), Snehit SFR, Ronit Bhanja, Moumita Dutta.

PBG Bengaluru Smashers: Manika Batra, Alvaro Robles (Esp), Lily Zhang (USA), Jeet Chandra, Taneesha Kotecha, Anthony Amalraj.

Puneri Paltan Table Tennis: Ayhika Mukherjee, Nina Mittelham (Ger), Joao Monteiro (Por), Ankur Bhattacharjee, Anirban Ghosh, Yashini Sivashankar

U Mumba TT: Manav Thakkar, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Aruna Quadri (Ngr), Akash Pal, Kavyasree Baskar, Maria Xiao (Esp).

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