(by Steve Hopkins)
It has been uncertain how losing Hugo Calderano (World No. 8 and last year’s top ranked TTBL player) would affect the TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen team. Thus far, the Ochsenhausen squad is undefeated (2-0) and in a four way tie atop the Bundesliga. The other undefeated teams are Borussia Dusseldorf, New Ulm, and Grenzau.
Without Calderano, the Ochsenhausen lineup has relied on Kanak Jha to step up to play the anchor singles position, the only player on the team to play two singles matches (the other two play one singles match and then usually play doubles together). In today’s match against the 2020/21 season Finalist Saarbrucken, Jha won both of his singles matches and scored 2 of his teams 3 points (in their 3-1 team win). Jha’s first win was against Tomas Polansky, a Czech player who as was the U21 champion in Europe 2 years ago. Jha and Polansky traded games with close scores until the final game – where Jha pulled ahead early and maintained his lead for the 3-2 win. The second win for Jha was more impressive as it was over Darko Jorgic, Slovania’s top ranked player at World No. 25. Simon Gauzy added the other necessary win – topping Simon Berglund easily 3-0.
For Jha, this is a solid start to the new season – a bigger role on the team and he is now 3-1, and ranked fifth in individual points in the whole TTBL (positioned just behind Timo Boll). If you include Jha’s win over Mattias Falck in the Team Event at the Olympics, Jha has now beaten 2 of the top 7 ranked European players in the last month. That’s not just a great start for Jha – its a promising step forward for American table tennis.
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