CHENNAI: India’s ace table tennis player Sharath Kamal is confident that his team Mavericks will do well in the Ultimate Table Tennis league. He hopes that the league will be successful like the IPL and will help develop the sport on all fronts. Excerpts.
How do you find your team combination?
My team Mavericks looks formidable with two top-20 players in the world. Both men and women’s side are doing fine. As far as the Indian players are concerned, Archana Kamat is a very young talent and she’s been doing well in the last couple of years. So, I think we have a balanced team.
How about your coaching staff?
The foreign coach is Peter Engle and the Indian coach is Sachin Shetty. I have personally worked with Peter Engle for eight months during the 2014 Commonwealth games and we have a great rapport. I am happy and looking forward to work with him again. He is a gentleman and has abundant knowledge about the game.
Your views on UTT
I think it will be a tough outing, as most of the teams are well balanced and the system of play will make it tougher.
Who are the foreign players to watch out for?
All foreign players are of good standard and most of them are equally competitive. Few players to look forward will be Wong Chung Ting from Hong Kong and Marcos Freitas from Portugal.
Do you find the format of the tournament interesting?
I personally think that the system of play is quite interesting which makes all the team balanced and I guess, the best part is doubles and mixed doubles.
Will the tournament improve the quality of the game like how IPL did for cricket?
Well, that is the hope that the table tennis league would also have. And if it can connect to the audience, then in the next few years table tennis would become a major sport in India.
Has the league got the potential to popularise the sport?
Yes, the format, the players and the whole league would popularise the sport and hopefully in the coming years table tennis would also be noticed everywhere.
How about job opportunities, now that the Petroleum board is supporting the players?
Government is helping us by giving employment. Depending on the level you play, one can most likely find a job. But still, for the masses to take up sport as a profession, we need much more support.