NAPLES, Fla. — As anticipation builds for the inaugural season, Major League Table Tennis (MLTT) is proud to unveil the lineup of distinguished coaches who will lead the league’s teams.
From a diverse and impressive pool of candidates, the selection committee has finalized a list that represents a perfect blend of experience, talent, and passion for the sport. Each coach will play a pivotal role in setting the foundation of the league, building team dynamics, and driving excellence on the table tennis court.
Frank Arias – FLORIDA CROCS
Eric Owens – CHICAGO WIND
Shigang “Alex” Yang – CAROLINA GOLD RUSH
Mathias Habesohn – PRINCETON REVOLUTION
Jörg Bitzigeio – TEXAS SMASH
Luba Sadovska – SEATTLE SPINNERS
Christian Lillieroos – PORTLAND PADDLERS
Maggie Tian – BAY AREA BLASTERS
“The selection of our coaching staff marks a significant milestone in our journey. We believe that the coaches, with their vast experience and expertise, will not only elevate the game’s quality but also contribute to the enduring legacy of MLTT,” MLTT Commissioner Flint Lane said.
As the league’s launch approaches, training camps and pre-season events will further introduce the coaches and players to the MLTT community.
Join us as we embark on an exciting journey, bringing table tennis to unprecedented heights in the world of professional sports. Stay tuned for more updates— including schedule and ticket sales announcements — and get ready to witness history in the making.
Fans, players, and enthusiasts are encouraged to follow MLTT on social (@majorleagueTT on X and @majorleaguetabletennis everywhere else) for real-time updates, behind-the-scenes content, and more information regarding the league, coaches, and players.
Major League Table Tennis (MLTT) was founded in 2023 by software entrepreneur and table tennis enthusiast, Flint Lane. Flint and his wife Kathy own two table tennis clubs, Princeton Pong and Naples Pong. Flint previously served on the USATT Clubs Committee. MLTT’s mission is to bring the best table tennis experience to athletes and fans alike. One of the merits of our league is the diversity of our athlete rosters. Players come from all over the world, bringing with them different styles and techniques that make match play exciting and competitive. MLTT is committed to advancing the sport of table tennis by providing the ultimate table tennis experience for all involved. We are dedicated to growing our league and supporting our athletes as they compete at the highest levels of the sport.
About Our Coaches
Coach Jörg Bitzigeio
Joerg Bitzigeio, a name synonymous with excellence in international table tennis, has amassed an illustrious career in the sport spanning various pivotal roles. From being an international pro player representing Germany to currently mentoring and coaching the US’ world class male player, Kanak Jha for the past 6 years, Joerg’s commitment to table tennis is unparalleled.
At the age of just 28, Joerg, who has master’s degree in sports science and business, made history by becoming the youngest National and Olympic Team Head Coach, steering the German Women’s Team for seven prolific years. Under his leadership, the team clinched a Bronze medal at the 2010 World Team Championships – a monumental achievement as it marked the first medal for the German Women’s team at World Championships since 1997. Not one to rest on his laurels, Joerg transitioned to the role of Youth Head Coach, where, over four years, he elevated several German players to global acclaim, helping them seize numerous European Championships and Europe Top 12 titles across Adult, Junior, and Cadet categories.
In 2017, Joerg’s expertise was sought by USA Table Tennis, appointing him as their High Performance Director. His transformative leadership led to several historic feats: three US players breaking into the Top 30 in Adult World Rankings, a Gold medal for the US men’s team at the 2019 Pan Am Games, and a Bronze at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. Both these medals marked unprecedented victories for US male table tennis athletes.
Recognized as one of the foremost directors, managers, and coaches in both Europe and the Americas, Joerg’s contributions have been acknowledged with accolades like the USATT National Coach of the Year in both 2017 and 2018.
Coach Frank Arias
Frank Arias stands as a central figure in the progression of table tennis in the Dominican Republic. Since 2016, he has taken the reins as the coach of the Dominican Republic Male Table Tennis team, leading them on the global stage. Under his watchful guidance, the team has graced numerous prestigious platforms, from the World Championships to the Panamerican Games.
Arias’ involvement has taken the team through a gamut of tournaments, including the Panamerican Championship, Central America & Caribbean Games, Caribbean Championships, and Latin American Championships. The results achieved under his mentorship speak volumes about his expertise and strategic prowess. His coaching techniques, combined with his keen understanding of international competition dynamics, have solidified his reputation in the table tennis community.
In the realm of table tennis, Arias’ commitment to excellence and his consistent drive to elevate the Dominican Republic’s presence on the international scene is both commendable and unparalleled.
Coach Mathias Habesohn
Passionate and dedicated, Mathias Habesohn has dedicated his life to table tennis, both as a player and a coach. His love for the sport and more than 13 years of experience working with professional table tennis players set him apart as a figure of authority in the game.
As a former professional player himself, Habesohn was a member of the national men’s table tennis team and even achieved the remarkable feat of reaching the Pro Tour Grand Finals in men’s doubles, a distinction reserved for the top 8 doubles of the season worldwide. Throughout his playing career, he rubbed shoulders with table tennis legends like Werner Schlager, Chen Weixing, and Robert Gardos, gaining invaluable insights from some of the game’s finest talents.
Transitioning to coaching, Habesohn was the head coach of the Austrian national team, further honing his skills during a six-year stint at the renowned “Werner Schlager Academy.” There, he collaborated with some of Europe’s elite players, a testament to his caliber and expertise.
Table tennis runs deep in the Habesohn family, with both of his brothers also making their mark in the sport. Notably, his brother, Daniel Habesohn, ranks among the world’s best players. Their combined prowess was evident when they clinched the European Championships in men’s teams together in 2015, representing Austria. Habesohn credits much of his success to his mother Sonita, who “brought us this beautiful sport…her passion for the sport is unbelievable and without her all three of us couldn’t have made it in table tennis.”
Mathias’s coaching journey has seen him guiding players in premier tournaments, from the Olympic Games to the World Cup, World Championships, European Championships, and beyond. While he humbly doesn’t claim to be the ultimate coach, his relentless passion, unwavering commitment to enhancing his knowledge, and a rich tapestry of experiences make him an exemplary choice for any table tennis team.
Coach Christian Lillieroos
Christian Lillieroos stands as a beacon of excellence in the world of table tennis coaching. Boasting an ITTF Level 3 certification, he is not only adept at coaching players in the 2400-2700 USATT rating bracket but is also qualified to conduct ITTF Level 3 courses, highlighting his expertise in both coaching and teaching realms.
His extensive experience spans across the globe, having worked with table tennis aficionados in a staggering 53 countries. Throughout his illustrious career, Christian has provided his coaching expertise to 19 national teams. His commitment to these teams varies from short, intensive 2-week camps to multi-year coaching endeavors, showcasing his flexibility and adaptability in molding talent across different scenarios and cultures.
Drawing from this vast experience and specialized training knowledge, Christian is perfectly poised to offer a depth of understanding and technique that few in the sport possess, making him an invaluable asset in the table tennis community.
Coach Eric Owens
A celebrated figure in the world of table tennis, Eric Owens embarked on his journey with the sport at the tender age of six. Over two decades of rigorous training and unwavering commitment, Eric not only honed his skills but also cemented his reputation on the international stage. As a testament to his prowess, he represented the national team in six world championships and participated in three Pan-American games.
His accolades don’t stop there. Owens claimed victory at the US championships in both men’s singles and men’s doubles, achievements that speak volumes of his talent and dedication. Recognizing his significant contributions to the sport, he was rightfully inducted into the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame.
As USA table tennis pioneers into a new era with the introduction of a professional league, Owens’ enthusiasm remains undiminished. With a legacy steeped in excellence and a passion that burns bright, he is keen on taking an instrumental role in shaping the future of the sport as a coach.
Coach Maggie Tian
Maggie Tian, with her roots in professional table tennis dating back to the tender age of 9, is a testament to dedication and expertise. After an illustrious journey with the Liaoning provincial team, which concluded in 2008, she extended her prowess to the Croatia League, demonstrating her adaptability on the global stage. Maggie then took the bold step of relocating to the US in 2009, pivoting her focus to full-time coaching.
As a player, Maggie’s medal cabinet is adorned with numerous accolades, the pinnacle being the Gold Medal she clinched at her debut US Open in 2010, dominating the U21 Women’s Singles category.
However, Maggie’s brilliance isn’t confined to her personal achievements. Her deep understanding and love for the game saw her rise rapidly in the US coaching realm. Her exceptional skills didn’t go unnoticed, leading to her selection as a US National Team Coach in 2016. Maggie has since been instrumental in shaping and guiding several US National Team members on both domestic and international platforms. Her crowning moment as a coach came in 2017 at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Fiji, where she steered the US Cadet Girls’ Team to a Silver Medal – an accomplishment that remained unparalleled as of 2021.
In the annals of table tennis, Maggie stands out not only as an accomplished player but also as a visionary coach, constantly pushing boundaries and crafting champions.
Coach Shigang “Alex” Yang
Shigang “Alex” Yang boasts a distinguished presence in the global table tennis community. Representing China, he claimed victory at the World University Table Tennis Championships in 1998, a testament to his prodigious talent. Later, transitioning from a top-tier player to a transformative coach, Alex served as the head coach for the U.S. Junior Boys’ team from 2010 to 2016. Under his astute guidance, the team clinched numerous titles in international tournaments, reflecting his adept coaching acumen.
In 2009, Alex founded the Atlanta International Table Tennis Academy and has since been its driving force as the owner and head coach. The academy’s track record is nothing short of exceptional. It has been the nurturing ground for 10 U.S. Cadet, Junior, and Adult National Team players. Moreover, two Olympians, Yijun Feng and Jeremy Hazin, stand as a testament to the academy’s impeccable training standards.
With his illustrious athletic achievements and 16 years of rich coaching experience spanning training and competitions, Alex’s deep-rooted passion and expertise position him as a leading figure in the table tennis world.
Coach Luba Sadovska
Luba Sadovska is a passionate advocate for table tennis. She co-founded the North Shore Table Tennis Club, which quickly became the fastest-growing club in British Columbia. Luba also established the first Table Tennis Academy in partnership with West Vancouver Schools, allowing students to earn educational credits while learning new skills.
Under her guidance, numerous young athletes have progressed to compete at provincial and national levels, and several senior players have earned silver and gold medals in various competitions.
Luba is more than a coach; she is a mentor who fosters relationships with her athletes, focusing on continuous personal development and growth. She excels at coaching effectiveness, valuing feedback, and collaborating with peers and parents alike.
Her leadership extends beyond coaching. Luba conducts clinics across the province, encourages athletes to become certified coaches, and is a champion for women and girls in sports. She teaches Table Tennis in Schools Programs, actively engages in community outreach, and has developed a program to mentor future coaches, players, and potential Olympians from diverse backgrounds.
Luba has been honored with several awards and certificates, including the 2019 Table Tennis Canada’s Betty Tweedy Award as Contributor of the Year, and she has completed a High Performance Coaching Course in Halmstad, Sweden, from December 6-11, 2019. In 2020, she was recognized as the Via Sport Community Coach of the Year.
Among her notable achievements, Luba serves as a Master Coach Developer in Table Tennis Canada’s National Coaching Program. She holds the distinct honor of being the only North American coach selected for an elite coaching course in Sweden, where she was also the sole female participant among 24 international coaches.
Luba is in her third semester of the Advanced Coaching Diploma with the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary, marking her commitment to her own professional development.