The table tennis players of Pedagog České Budějovice enter their third season in the first league this weekend. In this year’s premiere, they will welcome newcomers to the competition Slavia Praha (14) in their playroom on Branišovská Street on Saturday, and a day later the B team Sokol Hradec Králové (10).
Former representative Martin Hanák will once again be one of the mainstays of Pedagog’s table tennis players in the first league.
| Photo: Deník/ Petr Hřídel
In the previous year, Pedagog took a flattering eighth place, which will not be easy to defend. The South Bohemians enter the new season with a changed composition. After two years, three-time national champion and former representative Radek Košťál (48) left the team. In the past best player of the entire competition, he went to play extra league in Hrad Králové. “I felt great in Budějovice and I have probably never experienced a better atmosphere than at home matches anywhere. But at my age, I don’t like the format of the first league, where they play ten games a weekend, which is a lot. In the extra league, I will start one or two singles a week,” he said on his departure.
Pavel Kortus Jr. also left the team, and for the first time in his career he will get a taste of foreign engagement in third division Austrian Wels. “The first league is especially time-consuming. There is a lot of traveling there and you need to train as much as you can to survive. At the moment, I am forced to choose this path,” he explained.
Only Pavlo’s younger brother Filip and the experienced Martin Hanák remained from last year’s successful squad. They were joined by Jakub Slapnička, a pupil of Strakonice, who has improved his table tennis in recent years at our strongest club in Havlíčková Brod. “There are an awful lot of really quality players in Brod, and it would be difficult for me to get into the extra-league team there. It’s not far from Budějovice, it’s a great team in Pedagog and I expect us to stay somewhere in the middle of the table,” said the extremely talented youngster before the start of the second top competition.
Jakub Slapnička believes that Pedagog will play in the first league in the middle of the table
The second reinforcement is 22-year-old Západočech Jan Žaloudík, who has already had a taste of the Extra League in Cheb and otherwise regularly played in the first or second league.
The squad Pedagog put together was very decent, but the first league is really extremely strong this year. Every win will be worth it, as all teams’ rosters are really stacked this year. As Jakub Slapnička indicated, the team is thinking about the middle of the table, but the primary goal will clearly be survival. The change is the dates of Saturday’s home games, which will start an hour earlier at 2:00 p.m.
In addition to the second league, which started two weeks ago, other league competitions also start this weekend.
In the second league, Vodňany hosts Liberec B (15) on Saturday and Hostinná (10) on Sunday. Strakonice will welcome the same opponents in the opposite order, but at the same times. Studená goes to Čakovice and to Prague for El Niňo C.
Home team Jakub Slapnička defended the victory at the Pedagog Cup of table tennis players
In the third league, South Bohemian table tennis will be represented by the joint team of Soběslavi and Studená together with a newcomer from Kaplice. Both teams play one match in Boro this weekend.
In the women’s first league, Vyšší Brod hosts Sparta Praha (10) and Bohnice (14) on Saturday, in the second league, Kovářov welcomes Kladno (10) and Bohnice B (15) on Saturday, while newcomer Sokol České Budějovice hosts the same opponents in the opposite order.