The registration for the new-look Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open begins as players globally have started confirming their willingness to be part of Africa’s elite table tennis tournament holding on August 7 to 11 in Lagos.
Concise News reports that the tournament which is its 6th edition as an ITTF-sanctioned tournament was in 2018 upgraded to Challenge Plus by the world table tennis ruling body following its growing popularity among top players across the world.
From its initially nine countries that started the tournament in 2014, the tournament had over 27 countries in its 2018 edition which was won by Aruna Quadri being the first time a Nigerian will emerge as champion.
Apart from its improved prize money of $60,000, the tournament would afford players to garner ranking points that will aid their qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
For the 2019 edition, the Main Organising Committee (MOC) chaired by Wahid Oshodi believes some of the top 50 players in the world had already expressed their willingness to be part of the championship holding at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.
The deadline for singles events is July 8 while doubles’ registration has till July 18 to beat the deadline.
From the six events – singles men and women; doubles men and women; and U-21 men and women, players will now compete also in the mixed doubles event to increase the events to seven this year.
With men and women singles winners carting home $7,000 each in the new prize money sharing formula, Oshodi who is the chairman of the ITTF Nomination Committee believes this year’s tournament promises to be exciting particularly for African players who are hoping to use the tournament to tune up for the 2019 African Games.
“From the inquiries we have received so far, we are expecting entries from the cream of World Table Tennis. Apart from the top players in Africa, we are expecting players from all over the world. We had 27 countries last year and we expect to beat that number this year by some margin. A lot of players ranked within the top 50 of World table tennis have indicated their interest. As the prospectus has been made public by ITTF, we expect the entries to start flowing in,” Oshodi said.