(by Steve Hopkins)
The top three positions are locked up with Borussia Dusseldorf entering the 4-team playoff as the top seed, and Saarbrucken and Ochsenhausen will be matched up against each other as second and third seeds – though it is not yet certain which team will be the higher seed. The fourth seed remains unknown as well, though ASV Grunwettersbach currently holds that fourth and final position.
Tuesday was a busy day with Dusseldorf defeating ASV, Saarbrucken topping Muhlhausen, and Ochsenhausen beating Bad Homburg.
The most interesting story lines of this week are with ASV Grunwettersbach where they narrowly lost to Dusseldorf 3-2, but may have gained some confidence in the process. ASV is tied with Neu Ulm for the final playoff spot, but they hold the tiebreaker. This means that later this week, if ASV defeats Muhlhausen – they’re in. Neu Ulm will do their best to take out Bad Konigshofen and hope ASV falters.
If ASV holds on, then they will face Dusseldorf in the opening round of the playoffs – in a rematch of the match held today. The advantage will be with Dusseldorf on paper, but expect ASV to field a team with Dang Qiu, Wang Xi, and Deni Kozul. When matched up against Boll, Kallberg, and Karlsson, ASV will need an upset to push it to doubles. The key match could be a rematch of today’s Wang Xi versus Anton Kallberg match where Kallberg pulled out the win 13-11 in the fifth today.
Of the top three, Saarbrucken surprised the field a year ago to win. However, it was Ochsenhausen that won the previous year, and Dusseldorf the year before – so these are three squads with great results in recent years. For 2021, Timo Boll’s Dusseldorf team has been dominant, but Ochsenhausen has the advantage on paper (with Hugo Calderano as the top ranked player in the whole TTBL and Simon Gauzy as the top scoring player in the whole TTBL) – and Ochsenhausen won the last time the two teams played. Of course, focus on Ochsenhausen and Dusseldorf only is exactly what happened a year ago – so maybe Patrick Franziska can lead his Saarbrucken team to back to back titles?
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