Offiong Edem and Bode Abiodun worked their way into the main draw of the 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open after recording stunning victories in the preliminary round of the singles event on Thursday.
Edem, who is competing in her first tournament ahead of the ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) holding later this month in Tunisia, confirmed her preparedness for both tournaments with a superb performance against Kazakhstan’s Anastassiya Lavrova.
Despite going down 3-1 (8-11, 11-4, 3-11, 16-18) in the tie, Edem regained her composure to win the next three sets 14-12, 11-6, 11-2 to triumph 4-3 and seal passage to the main draw of the women’s singles.
Similarly, Abiodun who is also competing in his first major tournament this year, was in rampant form in the first round of the preliminaries with a ruthless takedown of Scotland’s Niall Cameron 4-0 (11-6, 11-7, 11-3, 11-6) to set up a second-round tie against Germany’s Cedric Meissner.
The German, however, proved a more obdurate opponent and went 2-1 up (11-9, 5-11, 5-11) before the Nigerian fought back to win the last three games 11-7, 13-11, 11-9 to complete a 4-2 victory and seal a place in the main draw of men’s singles.
Edem and Abiodun will join compatriot Olajide Omotayo who is already seeded in the main draw which serves off on Friday, February 14.
Elsewhere, teenage sensation Taiwo Mati making his debut in an international senior tournament fell to England’s Tom Jarvis 4-0 (4-11, 2-11, 5-11, 5-11) in the second round of preliminaries.
Mati had on Wednesday pummeled Guyana’s Miguel Wong 4-0 (11-5, 18-16, 11-4, 11-1) to pick some ranking points from the tournament.
Unlike Mati who progressed past the first preliminary round, Ismaila Akindiya fell at the first hurdle to Switzerland’s Lars Posch 4-1 (11-6, 1-11, 10-12, 3-11, 6-11) while Ganiat Aruna was no match for Italy’s Giorgia Piccolin with the former national junior champion losing 4-0 (1-11, 7-11, 4-11, 2-11) to the Italian.