The number of professional female table tennis players based in Nigeria will probably be a little more than 100 if the entries of the 2019 Africa games National trials and National Women’s Singles Open Championship is considered.
The figures definitely means that there are pretty good chance that all the female players has played themselves more than twice and as a matter of fact, most Nigerian top female table tennis player has got agility, speed, strength and technical skills but what set them apart is Consistency, the more reason why Funke Oshinaike is a legend of the game – Consistency
Little wonder , every championship organised by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation or private sponsored tournaments in the past two or three years, in the women’s singles, has Cecilia Otu -Akpan and Fatimo Bello written all over it but since the last National Sports Festival , it seems more female players are beginning to embrace consistency .
The 2019 Africa games trials , the National Women’s Singles Championship that ended on the 29th of June and other major championship in the past three years organized the by NTTF , the Sport ministry or private sponsored , will be a guide criteria to have the best top 5 Nigerian based table tennis player .
FATIMO BELLO ATINUKE
Nothing seems to deter her, even after being banned from the sport for three years. a year after the ban, Fatimo Bello got to the final of the Women’s singles of the NTTF National Open Table Tennis Championship back to back, in 2016 and 2017, losing both to Cecilia Otu -Akpan. At the 2018 National Sport festival in Abuja, Fatimo narrowly lost 4-3 to Funke Oshonaike in the round of 16.
2019 seems to be the year for the river state player, in less than a week, the National Women Singles Champion defeated Cecilia Akpan 4-2 at the final 2019 Africa games trials, three days after, the pair met at the semifinal of maiden edition of the National Women’s Singles Open Championship, with the river state player demoralising her arch –rival 4-2.
With her presence form, Fatimo will probably be at the Africa games in Rabat, Morocco.
It is arguable to say that Cecilia Akpan should be the first on the list but her present form state otherwise. No other Nigeria based female tennis player is as consistent as Cecilia Akpan, furthermore none is as consistent in her age-grade, and every women’s singles title has her name written on it. Losing in the final to Ajumo Ajoke at the 2018 National sport festival was a big surprise perhaps that might be the beginning of her present state. The National Open Champion is still very unbeatable by many, if it wasn’t for Fatimo Bello, she probably has won both the National Women’s Singles and the Women’s Singles title at Africa Games trial.
Despite the fact that she lost 4-2 to fast rising Esther Oribamise in the semifinal of the National Women Singles Championship, the reigning National Sports Festival Champion still has a lot in her sleeves, though she was one of the least favourite to win the women’s singles title at the sport festival, her victory shows she has a consistency to prove, with a winning debut at the World Championship in Budapest against Luxemburg’s Sarah Meyers, the Abuja based might be one of the few in line for new face of Nigeria Table Tennis .
The fast rising star has started on a good note, a silver medalist at National Women’s Singles Champion, a year after her senior debut, the ekiti state player still has so much to prove , her exploit in the junior category has given her headway , a great performance , she still need to improve upon . How easy she fell to a far more experience Fatimo Bello in less than thirty minutes in the final of the National Women’s Singles Championship point to the fact that she needs more time and experience to be amongst the best. A great player for the future.
At this stage it is difficult to pick the number five top player based in Nigeria because of the next set of Nigeria female players has not yet achieve the level of consistency the above players has achieved but Nimota Aregbesola , Ajala Funmilola and Bose Odusanya comes to my mind easily .
Nimota Aregbesola should have improved from the upset she caused at the National Sport Festival, defeating Funke Oshonaike in the quarter-final but her recent performance has proven the upset might just be a fluke. Like Nimota, Ajala Funmilola and Bose Odusanya needs to improve on their level of consistency.
There is a good chance that your favourite players might not to be on the list, you can comment on the comment box below.