As the lucrative Ultimate Table Tennis League serves off in India this week, one player that is in cloud nine over his inclusion in the 12-man star-studded foreign legion is ITTF Africa Cup Champion, Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri.
Aruna Quadri who defeated his continental rival – Egypt’s Omar Assar 4-3 in the men’s singles final of the 2017 ITTF Africa Cup in Morocco to qualify for his second consecutive ITTF World Cup is excited about the prospect of playing alongside some of the top players in India.
Aruna Quadri, who’s performance in Morocco has shot him to 29 in the latest ITTF ranking arrived in India on Saturday July 8 and has been named in the Oilmax Stag Yood team with teammates like Panagiotis Gionis of Greece as the second male foreign player in the team while the foreign female players in the team are Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Russia’s Polina Mikhailova in the team owns by Vivek Kohli.
“I am so excited to be selected as one of the 12 male foreign players in the maiden international table tennis league in India. My selection as the only black and African player means a lot to me and it is a rare opportunity for me to play alongside some of the best players in the world. There is no doubt that it is going to be a tough challenge for me but I am ready to give my best as usual to justify my selection as well as surpass all expectations in the championships,” he said.
He added: “Playing with some of the top players is like playing in the top European league particularly playing against players with different styles. I believe this league will help me to improve my tactics and I am hopeful of a good outing for my team with experienced players like Panagiotis Gionis. With the quality of players, the league is as strong as any top European league and I know it is going to be tough. I look forward to a fantastic tournament and also enjoying myself in a different atmosphere,” Aruna Quadri said.
The Ultimate league is the first ever professional table tennis league to be held in India, the concept comprises six franchises and will be staged in three cities. The contest starts on July 13 and conclude on July 30.Venue for the kick off contest is the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium and the finale to be held in Mumbai.
Following fixtures in Chennai, scheduled to conclude on Thursday 20th June, attention moves to New Delhi and then to Mumbai where the semi-finals and final will be played. Play in New Delhi commences on Friday 21st July and concludes on Tuesday 25th July; one day later matters are underway in Mumbai with Sunday 30th July witnessing the conclusion of the tournament. Overall six franchised teams compete, each comprising eight players: two men from the Table Tennis Association of India and two from foreign associations, the same principle applies for the women.
Teams are formed along club lines and they are: Maharashtra United, Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas, Dabbang Smashers TTC, iProspect Challengers, Falcons TTC (Bayside Spinners) and RP-SG Mavericks. Each fixture comprises nine matches, each match is best of three games. Each game is up to 11 points but should the score reach 10-all, it is sudden death; the next point determines the winner. A team receives on point for each game; thus a potential 27 points is on offer, thus 14 points secured victory.