The inaugural World Table Tennis Contender in Doha ended few days ago with Japan’s Mima Ito and Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov wining the singles titles on the final day.
Amid the glitz of the venue, its brand-new identity and high value entertainment appeal , the players’ sheer determination to showcase the best of table tennis, the event has shown another compelling narrative for global table tennis and its fans.
Beyond the above, here are four important lessons untangled at the global showpiece.
It is still a long walk for Africa’s best table tennis players
Africa Table Tennis players needs to do more to rival their counter-parts in Asia and Europe, this was evident at the just concluded WTT Contender in Doha, except for Aruna Quadri, who is Africa number one player, none made it to the group stage of the tournament.
Senegalese Ibrahima Diaw’s hope of joining Aruna Quadri in the main draw was thwarted by Japan’s Masataka Morizono , who defeated the Tokyo Olympic-bound Senegalese 3-1 (11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10).
In the women’s singles Africa number one, Dina Meshref wouldn’t go beyond the first round of the group stage as she was beaten by Korea Republic’s Hyowon Suh 3-1 (12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5).
What can be the reasons why Africa’s best doesn’t do so well in international events.
Strict COVID 19 Compliance
The WTT council prior to the commencement of the WTT Contender, together with Qatar Table Tennis Association have implemented and communicated repeatedly COVID-19 protocols to all member associations prior to the entry and withdrawal deadlines for the hub and this was shown in the suspension of Slovakia’s Yang Wang due to a breach of WTT’s Middle East Hub COVID-19 protocols.
Men’s singles champion Dimitriji Ovtcharov was warned repeatedly for violation of COVID-19 protocols
The German was cautioned for wiping his perspiration on the table and blowing into the balls in the quarter-final against Sweden’s Mattias Falck.
Ibrahima Diaw’s bold steps
Senegalese Ibrahima Diaw has proven repeatedly that he could be Africa’s next big table tennis star, in less than a year ago, the 27-year-old beat Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna to become Senegal’s first qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
At the WTT Contender Series, the Senegalese played his first game in the second-round defeating Romania’s Rares Sipos 3-0, he is the only Africa that won his games in second round at the qualifiers.
In the third round, he defeated a more experienced Russian player, Kirill SKACHKOV, 3-1, unfortunately, he couldn’t make it beyond the fourth round losing to Japan’s Masataka Morizono 1-3.
Ibrahima Diaw is poised to be Africa’s next big table tennis star as he is presently the continent’s number two player.
International table tennis tournament without the Chinese
China is the dominant force in the world of table tennis and their absence at the WTT contender is an opportunity for the best of the rest
Japan’s Mima Ito and Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov wining the singles titles won’t have been possible with the presence of the Chinese players.
It would probably be a Chinese affair in the men and women’s singles final.