Country’s top table tennis players and administrators are not happy with the Ultimate Table Tennis – India’s first professional table tennis league. Star Indian paddler Sharath Kamal has questioned the league format.
Kamal has opined that the nine-match format makes it difficult for fan engagement. The first edition featured a nine-match, three-game per match format in a race to 14 points with the action continuing for four hours.
“It is something I have already conveyed to the organisers (11EVEN Sports). Nine matches were a bit too much. It took about four hours for the entire tie to get over, therefore making it tougher for fan engagement,” national news agency PTI has quoted Sharath as saying.
“I think keeping the tie duration under three hours can be the way forward. Having said that, there are bound to be some issues in the first year. The event overall was world class and made the Indian table tennis players feel special in their own country like never before,” added the world No. 43.
Harmeet Desai, who represented Maharashtra United, said playing a pro league in India was a dream come true, adding that the length of the league could have been longer.
“Three weeks was a bit on the shorter side I felt. The leagues in Europe take place for a longer period. However, the overall feedback has been very positive. UTT is a much-needed boost to Indian table tennis and the players. Even the foreign players went back a happy lot. I am confident more foreigners will turn up for the second season,” Desai said.
Former Indian player Kamlesh Mehta, who is now a director at 11EVEN Sports, welcomed the response from all quarters. “The league finished on Sunday and we have already started working on season two. We have received a general feedback on the format and we are very much open to changes. In consultation with the broadcaster, we will work out a way to ensure the format is more engaging for the fans,” said Mehta.
Mumbai and Chennai were the two cities which managed to attract spectators interest at the venue while in New Delhi not even 1000 turned up to watch the action.
“You can’t expect everything to go right in the first season. Other than the format, the organisers will have to work towards bringing in more people at the venue,” said a TTFI official, who requested anonymity.