In the current season, which officially started on July 1, there are many new faces in the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL). In a small series, we introduce the newcomers in more detail, this time Liao Cheng-Ting of 1. FC Saarbrücken TT.
When looking at the new team of 1. FC Saarbrücken TT, one thing becomes clear: Coach Slobodan Grujic's team has become much younger than in the previous season. After the departure of the Portuguese Tiago Apolonia (32), the Slovenian Bojan Tokic (37) and Patrick Baum (31), Patrick Franziska is now the oldest player of the Saarlanders at the age of 26. With Darko Jorgic and Tomas Polansky, two players who have just turned 20 are going to serve behind the European Champion in doubles. Therefore, Liao Cheng-Ting fits perfectly into the new concept of the club.
The Taiwanese, whose signing was announced in February, is also just 22 years old and considered a big talent. This was proved by Liao in the past season in the first Swedish league, in which he only finished second to last with BTK Kävlinge, but with a score of 15-2 played a remarkable record – an even better one than, for example, Halmstad's Mattias Karlsson (14-5). In addition, Liao is considered an excellent doubles player. At the Australian Open last week, he won the bronze medal alongside his compatriot Lin Yu-Ju, after both had eliminated Patrick Franziska and Ricardo Walther the round before and were only defeated in the semifinals by the eventual tournament winners Jeong Youngsik and Lee Sangsu from South Korea.
Number three in the country
Internationally, Liao recently worked his way up to being the country's third-best player. In the ITTF world ranking, he reached a new career high in July with place 36 and is thus already closely on the heels of Taiwan's number two Chen Chien-An (31.). However, the undisputed top player is still the experienced Chuang Chih-Yuan (14.), who has already been playing for Ochsenhausen, Plüderhausen and Bremen in the Bundesliga. In April and May, Liao participated in the World Team Championships in Sweden alongside Chen and Chuang and remained unbeaten in his two matches. In the round of 16, which Taiwan lost 2-3 against Sweden, he was not used by his coach.
Liao will certainly not be able to complain about the lack of match practice in his new jersey next season. After all, Saarbrücken is represented in all three competitions (TTBL, Cup and Champions League). The enormous rejuvenation of the team is undoubtedly a risk in the face of this burden. But watching the following rally, it is hard to imagine that Saarbrücken's Sporting Director Erwin Berg made the wrong choice with Liao.
Header photo: ITTF