The Ultimate Table Tennis league, a franchise-based league, has brought in hope, optimism and motivation for budding table-tennis players. The opportunity of sharing the table alongside some of the elite foreign players and coaches that has been the reason for positivity and excitement. It might proved to be the launching point for a bright future for table tennis players in India.
The league will feature 10 top ranked youth players in the country (five boys and five girls) among the 24 Indians and the three week-participation in the league would turn out to be crucial learning experience for the youngsters. Former India captain and eight-time national champion Kamlesh Mehta who is the director of ESPL that will host the league reveals the objective behind inclusion of the youth talent.
“It’s been a vision of Eleven Sports. It’s a 10-year program that we’ve got into agreement with the federation in various laterals. Our aim is that in 2024, our players should be on the Olympic podium. UTT is one of very important international exposure. So in discussion with the Federation we suggested that we should encourage the youth players who are the future,” Mehta said while speaking to Firstpost.
One such story of a budding paddler is of Tanmay Rane, who is preparing for a new challenge. The 17-year-old table tennis player from Lower Parel, the corporate hub of western Mumbai, aims to join the newly launched India’s first ever professional league for Table Tennis. He has promised his parents, who are delighted with the launch of the league, that it he will be soon rubbing shoulders with some of the best professional table tennis players in the country and in the world.
However, Tanmay knows that he will to put in the work. He is ranked 10th in the juniors and inside top 50 in the youth but the announcement of the league has motivated and many paddlers will be working that much harder now to find their way into the Ultimate Table Tennis League.
While Tanmay won’t be there playing with the best this season but he will be in attendance at the NSCI arena, one of the three venues from where UTT will emanate, in Mumbai in person to watch top paddlers closely.
This is been one of the most promising eras for India in Table Tennis. Three Indians have broke into top-100 of ITTF rankings for the first time while the juniors are on fire having swept all 10 gold medals in the South Asian Junior TT Championships in May this year and bagging bronze in the 23rd Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in July. Identifying, nurturing, developing and grooming talent at the right age will be crucial to build up the youth.