TTBL: Franziska and Saarbrucken Rebound - Butterfly Table Tennis
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Bundesliga Finals: Saarbrucken Wins Season After Restart

TTBL: Franziska and Saarbrucken Rebound

(by Steve Hopkins, photo ITTF World)

The Tischtennis Bundesliga – Germany’s professional league – has just begun its new season.  A year ago, Borussia Dusseldorf and FC Saarbrucken were entrenched for 2/3 of the season as No. 1 and No.2 and the two teams played the last match in the mid-season final, in the European Champion’s League, and in the TTBL Final.

This year, there are some interesting TTBL story lines as favored Dusseldorf has lost one of their core players (Kristian Karlsson) but has benefitted from the ascendancy of Dang Qiu, who is now ranked in the Top 10.  Add in Timo Boll and Anton Kallberg, and include a young rising German star Kay Stumper and this team remains a likely favorite.

Focusing on Saarbrucken – they have kept their strong team in place, but they lost their opening match to Grenzau.  TTC Zugbrucke Grenzau is expected to finish in the bottom half of the league, so this was a bad loss for the team.  Perhaps more importantly, it was a bad day for their best player as Patrick Franziska was upset twice – falling to a young Polish player Maciej Kubik 1-3 and then falling to Yi Hsin Feng 3-2 a 19 year old Taiwanese player.  Saarbrucken bounced back in their second league match – facing Neu Ulm, Saarbrucken dominated 3-1 with Franziska cruising to 3-0 and 3-1 wins and Darko Jorgic logging the third win 3-0.

TTC Neu-Ulm will be an interesting story this year as well.  Their Euro Champions League team includes Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Tomokazu Harimoto, and Truls Moregard – which should place them in solid contention against any other team.  They also fielded a TTBL squad that included Ovtcharov and Moregard (along with Russian Champion Lev Katsman) in their opening match which they won easily.  However, in this second league match against Saarbrucken, neither Ovtcharov nor Moregard competed.  With their full squad, they may be the best in the whole TTBL – but without their top players, they may be outside of the Final Four.  The question for Neu-Ulm may be which team they plan to play for a majority of the league matches.  Whether they are a top four team in the TTBL, we can expect to see them as a favorite in the European Champions League.

The other team many Americans are following is  TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen.  They are currently 1-0 and tied for first (and USA’s Kanak Jha is 1-0).  Their next match will be against TSV Bad Koenigshofen on Monday and then they play next weekend against TTC Schwalbe Bergneustadt.

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