A lot has happened on the transfer market for the upcoming season in the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL), numerous clubs have strengthened – and some of them quite prominently. The most shining new signings in a short portrait.
Tomislav Pucar: When it was clear that Jonathan Groth will leave the club to Russia, TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell had to look for a replacement – and found one in Tomislav Pucar. The 22-year-old Croatian has been active in the Polish Superliga recently and was crowned Under 21 European Champion last year. In the doubles competition, Pucar also secured the silver medal. Last but not least, this is what made Pucar interesting for Fulda, as president Stefan Frauenholz explained: "Tomislav is an excellent doubles player. This is especially important for the new season." In the ITTF world ranking, Pucar ranks 86th in June.
Jang Woojin: With the signing of the South Korean, TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen managed a real coup shortly before the end of the official transfer period. The 23-year-old Junior World Champion of 2013 already practised at Liebherr Masters College in Ochsenhausen in student times, which is why the contact with the club's management has never broken off. "It was a dream of mine to come back one day, to improve myself in Ochsenhausen and to give something back to the club," said the world ranking 34th. TTF president Kristijan Pejinovic, whose team has already been complete after the signing of Stefan Fegerl, was pleased, too: "Jang has a huge potential. We are very happy that he returns to Ochsenhausen."
Liao Cheng-Ting: 1. FC Saarbrücken TT, too, was looking for a strong new player in Asia, but only had to look for one in Sweden, since Liao Cheng-Ting has been playing for BTK Kävlinge in the so-called Pingisligan, the first Swedish league. The only 22-year-old Taiwanese should replace the Portuguese Tiago Apolonia in Saarbrücken. Erwin Berg, Sports Director of the Saarlanders, is sure to have signed a good man: "Liao will rejuvenate our team once again and is highly motivated to present himself in the TTBL." In addition, Liao is said to get along well with Patrick Franziska, with whom he already practised in Saarbrücken before his official engagement in Germany.
Gustavo Tsuboi: With Gustavo Tsuboi, an old acquaintance returns to the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL) in the upcoming season. The Brazilian played two years for TTC Schwalbe Bergneustadt in Germany's top division between 2014 and 2016, but then transfered to Poland. Now he is to replace SV Werder Bremen's Egyptian Omar Assar, who leaves the North Germans after one year and joins Borussia Düsseldorf. For coach Cristian Tamas, the replacement could hardly have turned out better. "Gustavo Tsuboi is a double specialist, a left-hander, a team player and will move to Bremen," rejoiced the Werder coach in February. Internationally, the experienced Tsuboi is often seen alongside his compatriot Hugo Calderano, and the ITTF is currently ranking the 33-year-old on position 45.
Paul Drinkhall: The Englishman is no stranger to the TTBL either. In Germany, the 28-year-old already played for Gönnern, Jülich and Plüderhausen and was last active in Bremen from 2012 to 2014. Now Drinkhall is to reinforce another Bundesligist: The World Championship bronze medalist of 2016 with the English team received a one-year contract at TTC Schwalbe Bergneustadt – much to the delight of manager Heinz Duda, who has found an excellent substitute for Steffen Mengel. "Paul is an emotional player who can inspire and thrill his teammates," said Duda.
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran: In India, Gnanasekaran is already a superstar, now he wants to become on in the TTBL as well. In his new club however, the 25-year-old is following in big footsteps, since at ASV Grünwettersbach he is to replace the Japanese Masataka Morizono – someone who is said to be irreplaceable. ASV coach Rade Markovic still relies on the qualities of the world ranking 44th: "With 'Sathi' we were able to sign a player who showed consistently good performances last year and can be dangerous for any opponent in the TTBL." Most recently, Gnanasekaran was active in the Polish Superleague, this summer he will play in the new Indian league Ultimate Table Tennis again.
Header photo: ITTF