Mumbai, March 15 (IANS) 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 Ultimate Table Tennis, starting on June 14 here.
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, eight-time National Champion.
Announcing the draw here on Thursday, the organisers revealed that 24 premier players from across the world have signed up to compete in the 18-day long event.
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.
The star paddlers 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 quarter-finals 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 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.