PUNE: Empowerji Challengers will be aiming for the crown which eluded them last year when they launch their campaign in the second season of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) tournament in the Badminton hall of Balewadi Sports Complex here on Friday.
They are up against RP-SG Mavericks, who have assembled a completely new outfit this season. Challengers, on the other hand, have three players, Tiago Aplonia, Sabine and Mouma Das, who had turned out for the Mavericks.
The foreign coaches too have swapped places with Englishman Peter Engel, previously with Mavericks, now with Challengers and Dutchwoman Elena Timina being roped in by Mavericks.
Challengers, who were runners-up last season, retained just one player from their previous squad, the promising Manav Thakkar, who is the Under-18 World No. 2.
The highest ranked players in the tournament, Frenchman World No.12 Simon Gauzy (Challengers) and Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, World No.13 (Mavericks) will be in action, adding spice to the duel.
An intense battle is on the cards as both teams possess some fantastic players like Swede World No. 20. Mattias Karlsson (Sweden) and women’s World No. 20 Lee Ho Ching apart from 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallists Harmeet Desai and Mouma Das.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT:
Men: Simon Gauzy, (World No 12), Manav Thakkar, (U-18 World No 2), Mattias Karlsson, (World No 20).
Women: Doo Hoi Kem, (World No. 13), Mouma Das, Lee Ho Ching, (World No. 19).