(by Steve Hopkins)
Saarbrucken finished its sweep of Ochsenhausen today to join Borussia Dusseldorf in the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL) final.
Both teams used the same team configuration as the first match-up with Saarbrucken’s lineup of Patrick Franziska (No. 16), Shang Kun (No. 45), and Darko Jorgic (No. 27) battling Ochsenhausen’s lineup of Hugo Calderano (No. 7), Simon Gauzy (No. 19), and Samuel Kulczycki (No. 360). One frustration for Ochsenhausen this year is that on paper they always look like the better team. When you compare the rankings and recognize that your top two players will account for three singles matches and one will also play in doubles, the team with the highest two ranked players should win. Add the fact that Ochsenhausen also has World No. 30 Kanak Jha in reserve, but has chosen to use the young Polish Champion Samuel Kulczycki instead, and Ochsenhausen could have been favored in all 4 singles matches (at least by ranking).
The old sports proverb is “this is why we play the games” – because being favored on paper does not mean you will win. It has been that way all year for these two teams, as Saarbrucken finished one place higher in the standings. And, in the end, when the matches were played – it was Saarbrucken who won both of the playoff matches.
On Thursday in the first match, Saarbrucken player (and Butterfly player) Patrick Franziska was the strongest player as he won both his singles and doubles match, scoring 2 of the 3 points necessary to win. Today, that player was Shang Kun who topped Kulczycki to win the third singles match, and then Kun paired with Franziska to seal the victory with their doubles win. Darko Jorgic again came through for Saarbrucken with an upset. On Thursday, Darko’s upset win over Calderano extended the match to doubles (where Saarbrucken won) – today it was Darko’s upset of Gauzy the kept Saarbrucken alive (with the same result – a Saarbrucken doubles win in the seventh match).
In the end is was an upset loss by an Ochsenhausen player that sealed their fate in both matches. Still, even with the loss – it was doubles that determined both matches. In that regard, Saarbrucken kept their best player available for doubles, with Patrick Franziska a part of both doubles wins – while Ochsenhausen used Hugo Calderano twice in the singles rounds making him unavailable for the Doubles match.
Next up for Saarbrucken is a very tough Dusseldorf team in the Final. Next up for Ochsenhausen is a reconstructed team where they will keep French Champion Simon Gauzy and Polish Champion Samuel Kulczycki and American Champion Kanak Jha. However, they are losing their top player Hugo Calderano – and replacing him with Can Akkuzu of France (World No. 79).
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