The best part of UTT has been the mixed teams with coaches and support staff.
UTT has given Indian table tennis the right kind of exposure to players, giving all of us a lot of confidence. After beating foreign players we believe can beat them in international tournaments as well. The best example of this is the way G. Sathiyan and Manika Batra have performed in international tournaments.
This year with just 5 matches per tie, it will make the league more crisp and interesting for spectators and players and there will be a surprise element of not knowing if you will be up against an Indian or a foreign player – throwing up a lot of permutations and combinations.
Starting well, therefore, will be very important as making a comeback will be difficult.
In this third season, all the teams are well-balanced and it is going to be neck-to-neck as the tournament progresses.
Our team, Chennai Lions are pretty strong with Petrissa Solja, an important player in the women’s section and in mixed doubles. She recently won the gold medal at the European Games, thus becoming one of the first few players to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Our confidence is very high with Tiago Apolonia, who won the bronze medal at the European Games and Madhurika Patkar, who recently was the runner-up in the Commonwealth Championships.
I also believe that I have been doing well. Though, in this format, it is more down to the form on the day and how well the team does with both Puneri Paltan and Mavericks Kolkata looking quite strong.
All of us have been playing in a lot of tournaments recently – from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and then the Commonwealth Championships. This makes us match fit and match prepared and I do hope we can convert our form into actual performances.
Though it has been a tiring season, traveling around the world with training camps and matches, UTT gives a different kind of energy. One that makes us look forward to the season and we expect to help the team win the trophy, nothing else.
The best part of UTT has been the mixed teams with coaches and support staff. Playing with top foreign players has been a great learning experience.
(Sharath Kamal is the captain of Chennai Lions)