Defending champs Delhi take on Puneri Paltan UTT opener

New Delhi: Defending champions Dabang Delhi TTC will face off against newcomers Puneri Paltan in the opening match of the third season of Ultimate Table Tennis here on July 25.

Dabang Delhi, led by the current highest-ranked Indian paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (world no. 24), also boasts of Romanian Bernadette Szocs (world no. 19), Jon Persson of Sweden (world no. 72) and rising Indian paddler Parth Virmani in their ranks.

Puneri Paltan will be no pushovers as they will be spearheaded by Chuang Chih-Yuan of Chinese Taipei (world no. 28) besides having German veteran Sabine Winter (world no. 62) and India's top paddlers Ayhika Mukherjee and Harmeet Desai in their squad.

More high-voltage action will be on the cards on day two when new entrants Chennai Lions, who possess the country's most experienced player in 37-year-old Achanta Sharath Kamal (world no. 32) and German star Petrissa Solja ( world no. 26), take on fellow newbies U Mumba TT.

The team from Mumbai has the likes of Doo Hoi Kem (world no. 12) of Hong Kong and the talented Manav Thakkar of India in their arsenal.

2018 Commonwealth Games double gold medallist Manika Batra of India (world no. 56) will step up to the table on the third day for her team RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata, that also includes UTT debutant Benedikt Duda of Germany (world no. 53), Matilda Ekholm of Sweden (world no. 25) and Sanil Shetty of India.

The Kolkata outfit will take on the rechristened Goa Challengers (formerly Empowerji Challengers) comprising the league's top-ranked player Cheng I-Ching of Chinese Taipei (world no. 8), India's Amalraj Anthony and Spaniard Alvaro Robles (world no. 56).

The six-team city-based affair will see a total of 36 players in action, including 11 Olympians, 2 Youth Olympians and a total of 25 national champions across all the senior categories, fighting it out for the coveted UTT trophy.

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