Quadri Aruna and Olajide Omotayo are among the top African stars listed for the first official events of the World Table Tennis (WTT) in Qatar on 3-13 March.
The two events which have $600,000 as prize money will take place at Lusail Sports Arena in Doha.
According to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the Middle East Hub will feature two tiers of the new WTT event structure with WTT Contender Doha kick-starting the tournament before players move onto the first WTT Star Contender event the following week, providing the perfect preparation for some of the world’s leading stars to be challenged by the best up-and-coming athletes in table tennis.
Aruna who is the highest rated African in the world ranked 21 will join world-class talent set to light up Doha in the men’s events such Xu Xin (China, world-ranked 2), Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan, WR 5), Hugo Calderano (Brazil, WR 6) and Lin Yun-Ju (Chinese Taipei, WR 7). Other elite players taking to the table, including Mattias Falck (Sweden, WR 8), Jang Woojin (Korea Republic, WR 11) and Dimitrij Ovtcharov (Germany, WR 12) in the men’s draw.
However, Omotayo, Taiwo Mati and Nurudeen Hassan have been listed to compete in the qualifiers for WTT Contender Doha from February 28 to March 2 with successful players listed for the main event on March 3 to 6.
Omotayo is expected to fight for a place in the main event from the qualifiers while Mati and Hassan are among the reserve players to be considered after the list of players have been finalised by the organisers.
Aruna being one of the top 10 players in the world listed for the two events will start his campaigns from the main event of the championships.
The WTT Contender event will feature a singles main draw of 32 players per gender and 16-pair doubles per gender and in the mixed doubles. The qualifying draw will feature 96 players per gender in the singles and 32 pairs in the mixed doubles with $200,000 as prize money.
The qualifying round of the WTT Star Contender Doha will commence on March 6 to 7 while the main event will hold from March 8 to 13.
The $400,000 prize money WTT Star Contender event will consist of a singles main draw of 48 players per gender and 16-pair doubles per gender and in the mixed doubles. The qualifying draw will feature 64 players per gender in the singles and 32 pairs in the mixed doubles.