The experienced duo of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra were among the five Indian paddlers who were retained by their respective franchises ahead of the upcoming 2024 Ultimate Table Tennis, which will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai from August 22 to September 7.

Last season’s runners-up Chennai Lions retained the services of legend Sharath, while Bengaluru Smashers opted to continue with the highest-ranked Indian, Batra, as the franchises preferred to stick with their top paddlers for the upcoming season.

Meanwhile, defending champions Goa Challengers have retained Harmeet Desai, who played a pivotal role in their success last season, while Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will continue with Dabang Delhi TTC.

U Mumba TT have also extended their association with talented youngster Manav Thakkar for yet another season.

“Over the years, the franchises have not only looked to win titles but also focused on building the core of their team around their star player who can lead the team,” said the league promoters Niraj Bajaj and Vita Dani in a joint statement.

“The same thought process is visible in the player retention for UTT 2024 as we see the five franchises sticking to their star performers for yet another season.”

The Ultimate Table Tennis will be an eight-team league for the first time, providing a platform for young Indian paddlers to exhibit their talent alongside the world’s elite players. This significant expansion aims to elevate the standard of competition and foster the growth of emerging talent within the sport.

According to the rules of the league, the six existing franchises were allowed to retain one Indian player.

Puneri Paltan Table Tennis, who have decided not to retain any player, and new entrants Jaipur Patriots and Ahmedabad SG Pipers will select a player of their choice in the first round of the player draft. The first round will have only three picks.

The new season will also see a change in the tournament format due to the inclusion of two more teams.

The eight teams will now be divided into two groups of four teams each. Each franchise will play five ties during the league stage, facing the other three teams within their respective group and two randomly selected teams from the other group once.

The top two teams from each group will then qualify for the semi-finals.

Retained Players

Chennai Lions: Sharath Kamal

Dabang Delhi TTC: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

Goa Challengers: Harmeet Desai

PBG Bengaluru Smashers: Manika Batra

U Mumbai TT: Manav Thakkar