by Steve Hopkins)
Top seeded Borussia Dusseldorf dominated TTC Fulda 3-0 to advance to the Finals. Saarbrucken mirrored the result, dominating Muhlhausen 3-0 to advance.
For Fulda, a solid season with Quadri Aruna (Africa’s top ranked player) playing consistently all season, and France’s Alexandre Cassin maturing into one of the best players in the TTBL (he finished fourth in total points), and Fang Bo Meng as a solid third option. Fulda should be a contender for the Final Four as long as they maintain those three – but they still lack the superstar anchor enjoyed by some of the other squads across the league. For Muhlhausen, this was an unexpected result as their team of Daniel Habesohn, Ovidiu Ionescu, Steffen Mengel, and Irvin Bertrand lacks the star power of nearly every other team in the TTBL. That said, consistent play from start to finish, along with some timely upsets put them into the Final Four (for the first time in their team’s history). Neither Muhlhausen nor Fulda’s 0-2 result in their Semifinal is a negative result – in fact, for both squads this year’s result is a solid step forward.
For the two powerhouses in the German Leagues, its a third major match-up of the year. These two squads met in the mid-year TTBL tournament (Saarbrucken won), and met again in the Semifinal (effectively the Final due to Russian team disqualifications) of the European Champions League where Dusseldorf won. Dusseldorf had four solid players: Timo Boll, Dang Qiu, Anton Kallberg, and Kristian Karlsson (and per the rules can compete with all four in Singles, or three Singles players with one player playing twice). And while on paper, the advantage goes to Dusseldorf, the one-two punch of Saarbrucken’s Patrick Franziska and Darko Jorgic is capable of logging three wins against any team – and Tomas Polansky is a very consistent third player. The match-up will start early next month, and will be the best 2 or 3 (with Dusseldorf hosting two matches at home).
Visit ButterflyOnline.com for the latest table tennis news and results.