TTCLM GROUP B: There will be a big fight for the quarterfinals!Photo: Courtesy UMMC
Round 1 will be held this Thursday and Friday: UMMC - Chartres (Sep 28, 16:00 CET), Saarbrücken - Eslovs (Sep 29, 19:00 CET). – What Slobodan GRUJIC (Saarbrucken) and Tatiana KUTERGINA (UMMC) expect from their teams….
Group B is probably best balanced out of all four groups in the 2017/18 Table Tennis Champions League Men, as it has three former TTCLM runner-ups, UMMC, Chartres and Eslovs, and 2011/12 semi-finalist Saarbrucken. In the opening round, Russian club hosts Chartres, whilst Swedish side travels to Saarbrucken.
"Of course, we want to see our rookie Maharu YOSHIMURA (world no. 25) in the game, although I understand that this will be his first match for UMMC and it is quite possible that he will be worried. Nevertheless, I hope for the better", says Tatiana KUTERGINA, coach of no. 4 seed UMMC. "Unfortunately, our Russian players - Grigory VLASOV and Alexander SHIBAEV – still suffer from old injuries: SHIBAEV has a problem with his knee, and VLASOV – with his back. However, all the athletes have already arrived and started training; we still have time to properly prepare for the match. "
KUTERGINA stressed that Chartres is a serious contender:
"Few years ago this team played in the final of the TTCLM. Our old friend Robert GARDOS, plays for this team and we very well know his ability to pull off the most difficult matches. There is information that one of the leaders of Chartres, Par GERELL, will not come to the opening match of the Champions League in Verkhnaya Pyshma. However, with any team, we will do our best to win. After all, fans have missed table tennis: because of the European Championship, this season starts a little later, so we cannot disappoint our fans. "
TTCLM no. 5 seed Saarbrucken enters new season with same top four players: World no. 39 Tiago APOLONIA, no. 53 Patrick FRANZISKA, no. 62 Bojan TOKIC and no. 91 Patrick BAUM. Coach Slobodan GRUJIC, who won twice TTCLM as a player, stated:
"There will be big fight for the quarterfinals in our group, bearing in mind that we have four equal teams. That`s why we must be ready from the very first match and to use an advantage playing in front of our fans. I hope that our players will have special motivation, as each of them took medal at the recent 2017 ITTF LIEBHERR European Championships in Luxembourg."
No. 14 Eslovs created one of biggest upsets in the TTCLM history two seasons ago. Finalists from that season, XU Hui and Robert SVENSSON, will lead again their side. Eslov`s PR Viktor SODERLUND said that his side will play for the victory n Germany:
"We are excited for the first match in the 2017/2018 Champions League. We have respect for the Saarbrucken team, who seems to be a strong team, but we go for the victory on Friday!"