It was not yet a dark abyss into which TSV Bad Königshofen looked last Saturday, the season was simply too young for that. But the prospects for the first division table tennis team seemed to be getting darker at that moment. Filip Zeljko was already the last hope for the home crowd in the game against ASV Grünwettersbach, after the long-awaited Japanese player Yukiya Uda had messed up his debut in the TSV jersey against the defender Wang Xi 0: 3 and then Kilian Ort dem cool Tiago Apolonia, also in 0:3 sets, despite a good start with a 10:7 lead. And then Zeljko also began to fit into the unpleasant dramaturgy of this evening.
After all, the Croat had actually won the first set of the evening for his club, beating the in-form Ricardo Walther 1-1 (whom the German Table Tennis Association has just nominated for the Team World Championships in China starting on September 30); and with a lead of 9:6 in the third round, Zeljko even had the very first small lead in mind. But then he shot a simple ball, which was in the air for a long time because his opponent had retreated into the balloon defense, well off the table - and immediately afterwards hit another topspin for an invitingly high return out of bounds. 9:8, the sentence was suddenly open again - and ultimately went to Grünwettersbach.
This resulted in the following situation for the hosts: After an unfortunate 2:3 defeat at the start of the season against Werder Bremen and a 1:3 in Ochsenhausen, TSV headed straight for the third and so far most significant defeat in the third game, which the guests only had to do a single set win was missing. And with this bankruptcy in his luggage, he would then have to compete in the Bavarian derby at TTC Neu-Ulm next Monday (7 p.m.), who can choose from four talented young Russians, but also Truls Moregardh, Lin Yun-ju or Dimitrij, depending on their mood Ovtcharov can muster, although he has afforded these stars especially for the Cup and Champions League. The situation there could have developed into a catastrophic season start of 0:8 points for Lower Franconia. TSV Bad Königshofen had dreamed of a playoff place for the new season right after Uda's commitment.
In his second individual for TSV, the Japanese Uda shows very clearly what the fans can look forward to in the future
So maybe it was a tiny abyss that they were walking along, even if it was only the third game day. But after a good 57 minutes of play it wasn't Walther, but Zeljko, 25, who celebrated his 3-2 win with a primal scream; who took the audience with him to an exciting race to catch up, which in the end brought TSV their first home win and great relief. The guests were left with "bewilderment", as they later wrote on Facebook, and the anger about a chaotic game interruption after Apolonia's alleged mis-serve in the fourth singles game against Uda, after which the referees were unable to make a comprehensible decision for a long time.
For TSV Bad Königshofen, on the other hand, things changed from then on. Uda, the current number 22 in the world, showed in his second individual, the duel with Apolonia, which was somewhat overshadowed by the referee debate, that the audience was rightly looking forward to him. While it could be observed against Wang Xi that the 21-year-old has hardly any experience against defenders, he showed his full potential against Apolonia, his explosive athleticism, he bent in all conceivable angles to make winning shots that were hardly thought possible, which made it 2-2 -Bring balance. Afterwards he explained that he had felt pressure in his first game in Germany, that he didn't know the frenetic support of the fans from Japan and that he urgently wanted to learn better English, which would have made it easier to communicate during the dispute with Apolonia. Both later showed through body language that they were not angry with each other.
The final double then even became a clear affair for the Königshöfer. Ort and Martin Allegro beat Wang/Walther 3-0. Because of a foot infection, Ort can only train to a limited extent at the moment, he lacks any self-confidence, he told his coach during the defeat against Apolonia. But in doubles he acted extremely cleverly, and Allegro, the second entry, also convinced on the way to his first sense of achievement. At the start against Bremen two weeks earlier, the Belgian had unfortunately lost his singles against Kirill Gerassimenko in the extension of the deciding set, otherwise TSV would not have started the round with a 2-3 defeat, but with a smooth 3-0 home win - it was that close there too. "Now it has paid off that we have a second strong left-hander in the squad in Martin Allegro," commented manager Andreas Albert on the success in the doubles. In addition, you have now seen that the squad is stronger this season than before. So strong that the flu-related failure of the veteran Bastian Steger - with a bit of luck - could be compensated.
You can't remember the next home game date - there simply isn't one
The turnaround was solely due to Filip Zeljko, the former bundle of nerves who, in his seventh year at the club, had finally "arrived in the world class", as Albert emphasized, and who now keeps faith in himself even in tight situations like this. He had already amazed Bremen with a clear 3-0 win over Mattias Falck, the former World Cup runner-up and European Championship semi-finalist from Munich.
So now it's off to TTC Neu-Ulm, who fielded Moregardh, sixth in the world rankings, in their 3-1 home win against Grenzau last Monday. After that there is still a cup game in Ochsenhausen. However, the fans cannot keep the next home game date free - there simply isn't one. "We don't know what will happen next," says manager Albert. Not even when exactly the league sets its next dates between the World Cup and World Cups, which is definitely a problem for the clubs, for the organization of the helpers as well as for the planning of the players. So the prospects are no longer so gloomy - but somehow in the fog.