Latest finalists open 2016/17 TTCLM season: AS PONTOISE CERGY against ESLOVS Al BORDTENNISPhoto: Courtesy AS Pontoise Cergy
Round 1 will be held this Thursday and Friday, as defending champion AS PONTOISE CERGY hosts current runner-up ESLOVS AI BORDTENNIS. Andreas PREUSS (BORUSSIA), Slobodan GRUJIC (SAARBRUCKEN) and Allan BENTSEN (ROSKLIDE) present their expectations about opening round…
The 2016/17 Table Tennis Champions League Men commences this Thursday and Friday by the Round 1 which offers reprise of the latest TTCLM final between defending champion AS PONTOISE CERGY and runner-up ESLOVS AI BORDTENNIS (Group B, October 6th, 20:00 CET). As in last few seasons, 16 clubs divided in four groups will play six rounds within group stage, as two best will reach the TTCLM quarter-finals, while third placed are going to play in the ETTU Cup Men quarter-finals.
Top seeded triple TTCLM champion FAKEL GAZPROMA ORENBURG (Russia) will meet VAILLANTE SPORTS ANGERS TT (France) in the Group A clash. Russian giant is considered as huge favorite for the title, having three Top 10 players at the ITTF World Ranking list: current Olympic bronze medalist in Singles Event Jun MIZUTANI (Japan, No. 5), actual individual European champion Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (Germany, World No. 6) and 2016 Olympic semi-finalist Vladimir SAMSONOV (Byelorussia, No. 9). Japanese signed this summer after two season spent in other Russian club UMMC Verkhnaya Pyshma.
ROSKILDE BORDTENNIS BTK 61 (Denmark) goes to Germany to face the 2009 TTCLM finalist TTF LIEBHERR OCHSENHAUSEN which coach Dubravko SKORIC counts on five young players (all five born from 1994 to 1996): Simon GAUZY, Jakub DYJAS, Joao GERALDO, Hugo CALDERANO and Yuto MURAMATSU.
Most experienced player of Danish side, as well as its sport director, Allan BENTSEN is looking forward to the opening match:
„Our first match in Ochsenhausen will be very hard. They have a very strong team with players from both Olympic and just finished World Cup in Germany. We are happy to be in the Champions League again and hope to surprise some off the teams in our group. Our players are ready, Chinese ZHAI Yulia are real happy to be tested in TTCLM, then we have some young “guns” in Claus NIELSEN from Denmark and Ewout OOSTWOUDER from Netherlands, they will have to get some experience from the matches there and with there young fighter hearts they will for sure be hard for some of the players”.
BENTSEN added that his team also has some experienced players, like himself and Michael MAZE:
„We’ll see how to put the team from match to match. If we can disturb some teams and maybe take the third position we will be very happy”.
Beside the game in Pontoise, one more clash will be held in the Group B, between the 2012 TTCLM runner-up UMMC and 2015 ETTU Cup finalist KS UNIA AZS AWFiS GDANSK. Coach of Russian club, Tatiana KUTERGINA stated:
„We will play the 1st round TTCLM match against Polish team which we are very good familiar with - last year because of this team we finished group stage on the second place. The team is strong, they were semi-finalists of the TTCLM last year. Our group is very strong this year. The first match will be examination of our readiness for the season”.
Fourth seed and 1985/86 Champions League winner and 3 times ETTU Cup winner 1.FC SAARBRUCKEN Tischtennis (Germany) hosts four times Pro A League winner, G.V. HENNEBONT TT (France) leaded again by Kalinikos KREANGA. Other Group C match will be held in Poland: BOGORIA GRODZISK MAZOWIECKI – TTC OSTRAVA 2016.
„We are expecting very tough team from France, thus we need to show our best in order to win. We are focused on our side, having some players which are not yet in their best shape after 2016 Rio Olympics. The group is really hard, but our aim remains quarter-final, what is realistic, I think”, stressed Saarbrucken`s coach Slobodan GRUJIC.
In the Group D, No. 2 seed and ten times TTCLM champion, Timo BOLL`s BORUSSIA DUSSELDORF (Germany) plays on its soil against SPG WALTER WELS, while the 2012 runner-up CHARTES ASTT (France) welcomes KST ENERGA – MANEKIN TORUŃ (Poland). BORUSSIA DUSSELDORF`s manager Andreas PREUSS hopes that his side can be better than last year, taking some fresh energy from their newcomers (Kristian KARLSSON, Stefan FEGERL, Anton KALLBERG):
“It feels great to start in TTCL 2016/17 now. We would like to reach the quarter finals and to finish first in our group. So we have to win against Wels on Thursday to be in a good position for it. We are favorite with our team but we know that it will be a close match."
The 2016/17 TTCLM Round 1 (October 6-7th)
TTC FAKEL GAZPROM ORENBURG – VAILLANTE SPORTS ANGERS TT (October 6th, 14:00 CET)
TTF LIEBHERR OCHSENHAUSEN – ROSKILDE BORDTENNIS BTK61 (October 7th, 18:00 CET)
AS PONTOISE CERGY – ESLOVS AI BORDTENNIS (October 6th, 20:00 CET)
UMMC – KS UNIA AZS AWFiS GDANSK (October 7th, 16:00 CET)
BOGORIA GRODZISK MAZOWIECKI – TTC OSTRAVA 2016 (October 7th, 19:30 CET)
FC SAARBRUCKEN TISCHTENNIS – G. V. HENNEBONT TT (October 7th, 20:00 CET)
BORUSSIA DUSSELDORF – SPG WALTER WELS (October 6th, 19:00 CET)
CHARTRES ASTT – KST ENERGA-MANEKIN TORUN (October 7th, 19:00 CET)