European champion in 1999, the Caen Tennis de table club is finally bouncing back to the heights

Head in hands, face hidden by a towel, the players of the Caen Table Tennis club are prostrate on their chairs this Tuesday, June 14. Their dream of the title of champion of France has just been shattered on the last step. In an ideal position before the end of the season clap, the Caen table tennis players lost 3-1 at home against La Romagne (Maine-et-Loire) in a full house (around 1,200 people). It was necessary to score at least two points in this decisive evening. Caen will have scored only one, delivered the Grail to Angers, victorious on its side. “Sport, that’s why we love it and hate it”, slips, in tears, a member of the club.

The “worst possible scenario”

History came within two shots of being magnificent for Caen TTC, who returned to the top flight in 2019. Antoine Hachard’s two match points from the first meeting of the evening, which would have put the Normans on the way royal. “I take it for me, it’s me who loses the match,” said the 28-year-old player after the unfortunate meeting. The “worst possible scenario” at the end of a 2021/2022 season which nevertheless confirms the undeniable progress of the Calvados club. Pro B champion in 2019, 8th in Pro A in 2020, 5th in 2021, and 2nd, therefore, this year.

2019 not only marked the club’s return to Pro A, but also the 20th anniversary of Caen TTC’s title of European champion, created only eight years earlier. “This title was a one-shot with a huge financial risk. Behind, the partners had not followed and the club had found itself in great difficulty, ”analyzes president Bertrand Arcil. Relegations in Pro B in 2005 then again in 2009, and even in National 1, the third French level, in 2011, for an immediate recovery. Arrived in 2014, “the new management still had debts from the post-European title”, says Bertrand Arcil, determined to put the forward movement back on a long-term basis.

Due to a lack of high media visibility, table tennis clubs have to take up their pilgrim’s staff to find partners, in addition to subsidies. From 10,000 euros of partnership in 2014, Caen climbs to more than 200,000 euros today to build a budget of around 500,000 euros. “It would take 100,000 more to play Europe,” said the president. The entrance ticket for the continental games is indeed paying. But it is indeed the objective of Caen TTC, Coupled with another, touched on this cursed June 14: to become French Pro A champion. The plan announced in 2021 by Bertrand Arcil provides for the realization of this wish by 2024 .

From next season? “Most clubs have signed big leaders. We were close this season, we believe in it for the next one but it will be even more difficult, ”prognosticates Stéphane Ouaiche, Caen TTC player. Along with Antoine Hachard and coach Xavier Renouvin, he is part of the club’s hard core. Like Niagol Stoyanov, who is going to other places and will be replaced by Kirill Skachkov, a Russian already playing in France. The leader of the team, Wang Yang, injured at the end of this season, will also be there. Yang, Hachard, Ouaiche and Skachkov will try to forget the trauma of this defeat on the gong in the new Pro A formula, which will offer play-offs to the first four in the regular phase standings.

Behind the scenes, the management team works to strengthen the structure by approaching partners. She will be able to claim a rich business card after the good course of this season. “In our sport, we have to prove that we work well. Promises of results are not enough,” explains the leader. The reinforced image of the club should facilitate some contacts and perhaps arouse the curiosity of some national sponsors. Everyone will be able to see the images of a Jean-Eudes room full as an egg on Tuesday June 14 against Romagna. This new setting, completed in 2021, offers new prospects for the club, with, among other things, more room for partners. With 500 to 600 spectators for most of its matches, Caen is one of the hottest hosts in the championship. Appointment is made to vibrate to the new year next. If the Caen TTC sticks to its recent momentum, this could well be the right one.

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