THESE STARS ARE LEAVING



One of the effects of the transfer carousel is that some players are leaving the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL) at the end of the official season and move abroad. The leavings in a short portrait.

Jonathan Groth: After seven years in Germany, the Dane turns his back to the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL) and moves to Russia to play for TTSC UMMC. Groth's career in Germany had already started in 2011, when the left-hander was active in the 2. Bundesliga for TTC Schwalbe Bergneustadt. After a stopover in the second team of TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell, Groth landed in the TTBL at TTC Hagen in 2013, later at TTC Zugbrücke Grenzau. The big breakthrough, however, came after his return to Fulda for the 2015/16 season. In the world ranking, the now 25-year-old climbed up to rank 18, and together with Patrick Franziska won the 2016 European Championship title in doubles. With Fulda, he also reached the play-offs three times in a row and made it into the Liebherr TTBL-Finale 2017.

Masataka Morizono

Always spectacular: Masataka Morizono (Photo: Braun)

Masataka Morizono: Whirlwind, key player, crowd favorite – with the short Japanese, a big one is leaving ASV Grünwettersbach at the end of the season. For two consecutive years, Morizono, who always referred to ASV as family, played the best record of all TTBL players and delighted club officials, teammates and spectators alike with his spectacular playing style and his irrepressible will to win. But now his homeland Japan lures with a new, lucrative professional league, in which also many of his compatriots are going to compete. But there is hope: After his time at TTC Frickenhausen (2011 to 2015) and a stopover in the Czech Republic, Morizono, who together with Yuya Oshima is one of the best doubles in the world, returned to Germany once before.

Samuel Walker: With the Englishman, the last Mohawk is about to leave ASV. Until recently Walker was the only remaining player of the promotion team of 2015. Although the 24-year-old was never really able to prevail in the TTBL, he has always been an important part of the team. However, Walkers' successes are even greater with the English national team, with which he sensationally won the bronze medal at the 2016 World Team Championships in Malaysia and again advanced to the quarter-finals in 2018 as group winners. For the new season Walker now transfers to Istres TT to play in the French Pro A.

Yuto Muramatsu: Just like his compatriot Morizono, Muramatsu will play in the new Japanese league next season. The defensive specialist tranfered his homeland to TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen in 2016 and played a positive record right in his first sesaon (10-7). Internationally, Muramatsu was also on the rise back then. In 2016 he won his first World Tour tournament at the Czech Open, and in the beginning of 2017 he almost made it into the top 20 of the world (21.). Since then, however, other successes are hard to find. In his second year for Ochsenhausen, his appearances become rarar (5-4) – but remained spectacular all the same.

Joao Geraldo: After one year at ASV Grünwettersbach, the Portuguese transfered to TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen in 2016, but never really surpassed the role of a supplementary player. Now the Team European Champion of 2014 tries to find his luck in France at VS Angers TT. Tragically, however: Geraldo's farewell to Ochsenhausen. In the Liebherr TTBL-Finale 2018 in late May, his last match for TTF, the left-hander was already leading 2-0 in a duel with Düsseldorf's Kristian Karlsson, but lost 2-3 in the end – and was heartbroken afterwards.

Tiago Apolonia: With the Portuguese, 1. FC Saarbrücken TT loses one of its top performers in recent years. With the Saarlanders, for whom he played since 2013, Apolonia won the German final against Ochsenhausen – and thus against his former club  – in the ETTU Cup and led Saarbrücken into the Liebherr TTBL-Finale against Dusseldorf in 2016. His biggest international success the three-time Olympian celebrated in 2014 when he and Portugal beat Germany and became European Team Champion. Like Muramatsu and Morizono, Apolonia will be joining the new Japanese league in the future, but is still toying with a Champions League commitment at a European club.

Constantin Cioti: The four-time European Youth Champion from Romania will end his professional career and has joined the third divivion club TV Leiselheim for the new season. After numerous stops in Germany – including Plüderhausen and Ochsenhausen – Cioti surprisingly won the German team championship with SV Werder Bremen in 2013 and did not leave the North Germans until 2017. In his last Bundesliga season, the 34-year-old served for TTC Zugbrücke Grenzau, but could not prevent the weak performance of the traditional club, however.

Header photo: BeLa Sportfoto