After months of preparation, coupled with the confirmation of participants, the International Table Tennis Federation World Tour, Lagos Open serves off on Tuesday at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos State.
Eighty-two players, drawn from 11 countries will compete in the $46,000 prize money championship which a world is ranking event listed on the ITTF World Tour calendar as a challenge series.
As the second challenge series after the Hungary Open early this year, the tournament will once again bring to fore the fierce rivalry between Nigeria and Egypt as the North African team has a 12-man contingent competing in the six events jostling for at the championship.
Unlike the previous editions, where players are expected to compete from the group stage to qualify for the next stage, this year’s will witness a knock-out format, where players will only progress after winning each match.
According to the ITTF-appointed Competition Manager, Mounir Bessah, the stage is set for the commencement of the competition as everything has been put in place by the host.
Bessah said: “I am satisfied with what I have seen so far and there is an improvement from what I witnessed last year. I think the tournament is improving each year and I am happy with the atmosphere coupled with the kind of organization put in place. We are also hopeful that the players will have an exciting time in Lagos. The equipment is off world standard as it meets ITTF specifications while the hotel and logistics are also
perfect. I believe that the tournament will be more exciting this year with the quality of players competing this year.”
An elated President of the Africa Table Tennis Federation, Khaled El-Salhy, believes the Lagos Open has become a rallying point for Africa with the quality of organisation as well as the presence of Lagos fans who most times make the tournament very glamorous.
El-Salhy said: “I am looking forward to the huge support the players used to get from the Lagos fans. I think this competition is unique because the fans are always there for the players and this alone makes the tournament different from every other in the continent. I must commend the efforts of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation led by Wahid Oshodi for their commitment and sincerity in igniting the love for the sport among the fans and for us in ATTF, this is very important for our sport to grow and get more sponsors.”
However, ITTF Star Player, Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri, had his first training on Monday with the resolve to make his fans happy at the end of the competition.