MUMBAI: Four-time Olympian Elena Timina and former German women’s team head coach Jorg Bitzigeio will headline the coaching line-up for the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) Season 4.
The franchise-based league, which is promoted by Niraj Bajaj and Vita Dani under the auspices of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), is returning after three years with Season 4 scheduled to be played out from July 13 to 30 at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune.
Each team will be coached by one international and one Indian coach. A coach draft is expected to be held early next month.
Timina, who was also a part of the 1994 World Cup-winning Russian team, is a well-known name in the international table tennis circuit. She was the coach of Netherlands national women’s team between 2012 and 2017 and had also led the side to two gold and one silver medal in the 2015 European Games. She had earlier worked with Shaze Challengers and RPSG Mavericks, guiding the former to the runners-up spot in the inaugural edition of the UTT.
“It’s great to see some of the top names in the global table tennis circuit as part of the coaching line-up. We are committed to growing the sport in the country through this league and playing under some of these masterminds will not only benefit the youngsters but also the experienced paddlers,” co-promoter Niraj Bajaj said.
Bitzigeio, who had represented Germany at various levels, also boasts of an impressive coaching CV. Besides guiding the German women’s team to bronze medal at the 2010 World Team Championships, he also helped the US national team to secure 47 medals in the Pan American Games as a coach since 2017.
Francisco Santos, Slobodan Grujic, Vesna Ojstersek and Zoltan Batorfi will be the other foreign coaches to feature in Season 4. It was under Santos that the Portugal men’s team won the European Games in 2015. Grujic was the coach of the Serbian men’s national team from 2009 to 2011 whereas Batorfi and Ojstersek have also worked as coaches with national women’s teams of Hungary and Slovenia respectively.
A Muralidhara Rao, Anshul Garg, N Ravichandran, Parag Agrawal, Sachin Shetty and Somnath Ghosh are the Indian coaches.
Muralidhara Rao has coached some of the country’s top paddlers including Achanta Sharath Kamal and K Shamini since their early playing days. Ravichandran and Shetty have contributed to several international medals as coach of the senior Indian team whereas Garg and Agrawal have also played crucial roles with the country’s junior national teams. Ghosh is the coach of current national champion Sreeja Akula.