WTT Tournament: Lin Ends Aruna’s Journey

File photo of Aruna Quadri in action.

 

Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna has crashed out of the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender Series in Doha, Qatar on Friday after losing 3-1 to Chinese Taipei’s Yun-Ju Lin.

Aruna who is ranked 21 in the world was set up against the world’s number seven in the quarter-final after his triumph over Joao Geraldo of Portugal in the Round of 16 and from the outcome of the tie against the Asian star, it was clear that the Nigerian did not concede defeat easily without giving a fight.

From the start of the encounter, Aruna did not allow his opponent to dictate the tie and he ensured he fought for every point.

Aruna’s powerful forehand most times confused his opponent but his inaccuracy in backhand was a weakness that earned the Asian star some points in the first game which ended 8-11 in Lin’s favour.

Just like the first game, the second game was full of rallies and both players matched themselves shots for shots with the Asian star having an upper hand with a 9-11 win. However, in the third game, Aruna wanted to halt the run of his opponent that even when the match was at 10-8 in favour of the Asian star, Aruna fought back to level the game at 10-10 with both players winning point by point but the Nigerian prevailed at 17-15 to put the match at 2-1.

The fourth game had all the ingredients of the others and Aruna was leading 6-4 while the inability of the Nigerian technical team to read the game cost Aruna and it ends at 9-11 in favour of Lin to complete a 3-1 win.

Despite his exit, the Nigerian has set a standard for African players to look beyond the quarter-final at the WTT tournament.

The second tiers of the WTT Middle East Hub ‘WTT Star Contender kick on March 7 to 13 with the preliminary involving the likes of Olajide Omotayo and other African stars in their quest to join Aruna in the main draw.

Aruna Enters Quarter-Final Stage At WTT Tournament in Doha

 

Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna has become the first African to qualify for the quarterfinal of the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender Series taking place in Doha, Qatar.

Aruna continued his fine form in Doha with another superlative performance to record a 3-2 (10-12, 12-10, 12-10, 4-11, 11-6) win over his Portuguese counterpart, Joao Geraldo.

On Wednesday, the Nigerian beat Indian national champion Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 3-0 to set up a round of 16 tie against Geraldo.

Secretary-General of Nigeria Olympic Committee, Olabanji Oladapo is excited about Aruna’s performance and confirmed he has never doubted his quality. “Aruna has been a shining light in table tennis not only in Nigeria and Africa but globally. His efforts have continued to put Nigeria and Africa on the world map of table tennis. Having watched the way he played against the Portuguese, I am so proud of him and I believe Africa is also proud of what the Nigerian has achieved in the sport.

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His performance at the table is another confirmation of what he can do and he has indeed inspired the future generation with his display in Qatar. What he will do in the next match will be another feat for Africa and we wish him well over there,” the NOC secretary-general added.

On Friday, March 5, the Nigerian will face one of the skillful players in the world Chinese Taipei’s Yun-Ju Lin.

The $200,000 prize money WTT Contender Series is one of the two tiers of the new WTT event structure, while the Middle East Hub marks the first official events of the WTT era.

The Middle East Hub will feature two tiers of the new WTT event structure. The WTT Contender will end on March 6, while 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.

WTT Tournament: Aruna Advances, Battles Geraldo In Second Round

File photo of Quadri Aruna

 

Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna has defeated Indian national champion Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 3-0 (11-7, 11-4, 11-8) to book a place in the second round of the men’s singles at the first official  World Table Tennis (WTT) Tournament taking place in Doha.

Aruna, who is Africa’s only surviving player at the tournament, dismissed the newly-crowned Indian national champion in a manner that confirmed his quality as he dominated the match from the start to the end.

The Indian superstar who had boasted of his readiness to send the Nigerian packing in the first round was stunned by Aruna’s performance.

An elated Aruna described the win as awesome. “I am happy because everything seems to work well for me in the match. I had taken my time to study his game and everything I picked worked well for me in the encounter. I am looking forward to the next match and I hope to approach every match with all seriousness,” Aruna said after the match.

With this win, Aruna will now face a familiar face in Portugal’s Joao Geraldo who had a walk-over over Slovakia’s Yang Wang who was disqualified for breaking COVID-19 protocol put in place by the organisers.

In the women’s singles, it was not a good outing for six-time African women champion, Dina Meshref of Egypt as she was beaten by Korea Republic’s Hyowon Suh 3-1 (12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5). Meshref and Omar Assar are still in the race in the mixed doubles event of the championship.

The $200,000 prize money WTT Star Contender events will take place over six days and WTT Contender events will deliver four days of action, with each event featuring men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles competitions.

Omotayo Exits, Aruna Ready To Compete At WTT Tournament In Qatar

File photo of Aruna Quadri

 

Olajide Omotayo bowed has crashed out of the World Table Tennis (WTT) Middle East Hub taking place in Doha, Qatar in the second stage of the preliminary round.

Omotayo, on Sunday, set an African record as the first player from the continent to win a match at the WTT tournament after beating Kazakhstan’s Alan Kurmangaliyev in the first stage of the preliminary round with players from Egypt and Algeria tasting defeats in all their matches.

Pitched against the best player in the German Bundesliga, Sweden’s Anton Kallberg, the 2019 African Games champion showed class against his opponent despite going 2-0 (11-8, 11-3) down in the tie, Omotayo fought back with 11-9, 11-7 wins to put the match at 2-2. Even in the deciding game, Omotayo was leading 7-5 before surrendering the match to his European counterpart at 11-7 to exit the competition from the preliminary round.

“It was not easy after a year of not playing any official match but I am happy with my performance. All I need to do now is to concentrate on what I did not do right and try to improve that aspect. With this tournament I gained more confidence going into the next tournament. I hope to watch more matches of top players in readiness for another tournament later this week in Doha,” Omotayo said.

Egypt’s duo of Omar Assar and Ahmed Saleh were also not lucky in their matches as they were bundled out from the same stage of the competition by their European counterparts.

2019 Nigeria Open revelation Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw remains the only African that progressed to the third stage of the preliminary after a convincing 3-0 (11-8, 11-5, 11-6) win over Romania’s Sipos Rares.

And to be sure of competing alongside Quadri Aruna in the main draw, Diaw will have to overcome Russia’s Kirill Skachkov on Tuesday Match 2.

Aruna who is the only ranked African in the top 20 seeded players is shaping up for the main draw expected to kick off on Wednesday Match 3 as the organisers unveiled the new show court tables expected to be used for the main draw event of the tournament.

The $200,000 prize-money tournament is the first official WTT event with 298 players from 66 countries participating.

TTC RhönSprudel Offers Aruna Quadri Two-Year Contract Extension

File Photo of Haruna Quadri

 

Quadri Aruna has been offered a two-year contract extension with TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell in the German Bundesliga.

Regarded as one of the best players in the Table Tennis Bundesliga (TTBL), the management of TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell has been impressed with the performance of the Nigerian and in order to fend off offers from other teams, they decided to extend the contract of the African champion for another two-seasons.

Unlike other players who struggle to make an impact in their debut season, Aruna has been impressive for TTC Fulda as his performance has lifted the team from going down in the league.

The Nigerian who joined the German club from Sporting in Portugal in 2020 has been outstanding this season being the best performing player in the club for the 2020/2021 Table Tennis Bundesliga (TTBL) season.

With four matches to the end of the season, TTC Fulda has managed to escape relegation having won five matches and lost 13 to occupy the 10th place on the 12-team league table.

German internationals Fan Bo Meng and Ruwen Filus have been confirmed to remain with the team for next season and in planning ahead, the management of the club has decided to hand Aruna another two-year deal till 2023.

On principle, TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell has secured a unilateral option to extend the contract of the 32-year-old Nigerian after he joined the club on a one-year contract.

Being the best player in the Portuguese league for three seasons, Aruna has achieved an individual record of 14 wins and 10 loses to be listed among the top 15 players in TTBL. His performance has helped TTC Fulda this season as the team still believe the African superstar still has a lot to offer.

“We are currently in talks with Aruna”, TTC President Stefan Frauenholz can no longer elicit, but the extension with Aruna should only be a matter of time.

With this development, TTC Fulda will start the next season with an unchanged team for the first time in three years, after former players like Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, Chinese Wang Xi and Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar left the club after one season.

AFP

Aruna, Omotayo, Others To Compete At WTT Tournaments In Qatar

 

Nigeria’s 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 scheduled for March 3rd to 13th.

The two events have $600,000 as prize money and 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-ranked African, 21st in the world ranking 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.

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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 from 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 begin from March 8 to 13.

The 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 while the prize money is $400,000.

2020 ITTF World Cup: Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna To Challenge German, Slovenian Opponents

File Photo of Haruna Quadri

 

Nigeria’s representative at the 2020 ITTF World Cup, Quadri Aruna will challenge Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic in group three of the first round stage of the championship taking place in Weihai, China.

The tournament is one of the four restart competitions lined-up by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) for the return of international events following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

International table tennis events have been paused since March 2020 and the restart tournaments include, Women’s World Cup, Men’s World Cup, ITTF Finals and WTT championship scheduled for Macau later this month.

Already, the Women’s World Cup has concluded with China’s Chen Meng emerging as champion in her maiden outing and the Men’s World Cup which has Aruna and Egypt’s Ahmed Saleh as Africa’s representatives kicks off on Friday, November 13 to 15 at Weihai Nanhai Olympic Sport Centre.

The Nigerian will slug it out for a place in the main draw against German Franziska while his final group match will be against the young Slovenian who is considered as one of the emerging stars from Europe.

Quadri Aruna is a bronze medallist at the 2019 ITTF Africa Cup, and he is seeded no.13 among the 21 players competing in the three-day tournament.

With Aruna’s experience, he is regarded as one of the underdogs of the competition. This will be his sixth World Cup appearance since making his debut in 2009 in Moscow, Russia.

A statement from ITTF highlights Aruna’s prestige in world table tennis as thus: “A regular at world title events, Quadri Aruna is no stranger to pushing the table tennis elite to the limit. Aruna will want to improve his best quarter-final finish of six years ago in Düsseldorf, as he could not go past the round of 16 in last year’s edition. What will the African representative bring to the table in Weihai?”

The top two players in the four groups are expected to advance to the main draw where they will be drawn against the top eight seeds in the main draw of the championship.

Table Tennis Chief Tips Aruna To Make Top Five At German Bundesliga

A file photo of Nigerian table tennis star, Quadri Aruna.

 

The President of TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell (TTC), Stefan Frauenholz, has tipped Africa’s top table tennis player, Quadri Aruna, to be among the top five performers in the 2020/2021 Table Tennis Bundesliga (TTBL) season.

Frauenholz is backing his words on the recent form of Aruna and the records he has set in the last six years.

The Nigerian, who replaced departed TTC top performer Croat Tomislav Pucar, is hoping to lead the team in accomplishing the top-four target set by the club’s management.

“The newcomer will be among the five best Bundesliga players. In Fulda, however, Aruna also has big footsteps to fill in

“After all, Tomislav Pucar left the TTC for Russia after two extremely successful years,” Frauenholz said.

On Sunday, Aruna will lead TTC away to TSV Bad Königshofen who will be playing without their performance following COVID-19 scare in the team.

TSV Bad Königshofen started as a contender for the playoffs last season but they were unfortunate to finish in ninth place.

For the new season, the squad seems to be a bit weaker than last year, at least on paper following the exit of Japanese Mizuki Oikawa – a top performer from previous years.

With the signing of Frenchman Abdel-Kader Salifou, a former player with TTC Neu-Ulm last season, the club believes Salifou is a good match for Bad Königshofen, as his new teammate Bastian Steger had already explained when he introduced the Frenchman.

“He is a fighter with a great attitude who never loses a sentence, Salifou said, adding, “Our viewers will like that, especially since he has a very attractive style of play and an extremely strong forehand.”

The team will, however, depend more on Kilian Ort’s fitness level as the 24-year-old was forced to watch for a long time last season final placement of Bad Königshofen.

Aruna Quadri Assists Sporting To Win 37th Title In Portugal

 

It was an emotional ending for Quadri Aruna during the final of the Portuguese national league final as the Nigerian played his last match for Sporting and contributed to winning the 37th title.

Sporting CP won their fifth championship trophy in a row after beating GD Toledos 3-0 in the 2nd leg of the final held at the High-Performance Center of Vila Nova de Gaia, after repeating the same margin in the first leg on Saturday, July 4.

The top player in Africa who joined the team in 2016 from GD Toledos was the cynosure of all eyes as fans and players hailed the Nigerian for his immense contribution to the team.

To win the fifth league title with Sporting, Quadri was full of appreciation to the team that he admitted has helped his career to glow.

From the 18 league matches played this season, Sporting were unbeaten dropping only five sets in all their matches to attain 70 points which are 22 more than second-placed GD Toledos.

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A delighted Aruna who will be moving to Germany next season described Portugal as a home away from home.

“After ten years in Portugal, it was time to leave for a championship with another level. I was very happy here, Portugal for me is almost the same as Nigeria and I will continue to live in Portugal because I have a family here. I will train a few times at Sporting for the year,” he said.

For the final match against his former club, he said: “It was a very difficult game particularly against my former team and mate, Diogo Silva, who is a player with a lot of talent. We played together for four years and it is always difficult to play against him.”

His compatriot, Bode Abiodun admits that it was a difficult match having returned to the game after several weeks of inactivity.

Abiodun said: “It was a very difficult game, but I am very satisfied with the victory and with another title, which was the main objective of the season.”

Portuguese international, Diogo Carvalho also spoke about the tie saying, “We managed to win another title for Sporting, which was our goal. The match with Énio was very tactical because we know each other well, we played together for six years in Spain, so we know each other’s game.”

The coach of Sporting, Chen CP Shao, lauded the players.

She noted: “This Championship final was complicated, with a long stop and now without the public at the stands. The players managed to show some quality, despite having been out for four months.”

For the President of Portugal Table Tennis Federation, Pedro Miguel Moura ending the league was a big achievement for the federation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nigeria Outclass Egypt in ITTF Men’s Doubles Event

table-tennis_Aruna_QadriTeam Nigeria have halted Egypt’s dominance at the ongoing International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Senior Championship, putting up an impressive display in the the men’s doubles event.

The Egyptians have so far won three gold medals in some of the events concluded, but were denied a fourth after top seeds El-Sayed Lashin and Ahmed Ali Saleh suffered defeat at the hands of Nigeria’s Makanjuola Kazeem and Quadri Aruna, the no.4 seeds (9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9).

In the second semi-final game, Nigeria’s duo of Ojo Onaolapo and Jide Ogidiolu, the no.11 seeds, swept aside Egypt’s Khalid and Omar Assar, the no.2 seeds (7-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 5-11, 12-10, 11-2).

“I think we communicated a great deal during the match and we did not allow them to attack”, said Ojo Onaolapo. “I just told my partner not to be under pressure and ensure he put the ball on the table because I realised that they cannot cope with my topspin play; we were very focused.”

According to Kazeem Makanjuola: “Before the competition, I had said I want to come and beat the Egyptians and thank God it has become a reality”.

It was a fine effort but of course he had very good support; his partner has stunned the world in the past six months.

“Quadri Aruna told me to play short whenever possible and see what comes next; I did that and it worked well”, added Makanjuola Kazeem. “I am so happy that we were able to break the Egyptians dominance of the competition in this doubles and we hope for more in the singles.”

It was the exact reverse in the same round of the Women’s Doubles event where Olaide Atinuke and Olufunke Oshonaike, the no.6 seeds, suffered a heart breaking seven games defeat against Congo Brazzaville’s Han Xing and Onyinyechi Nwachukwu, the no.2 seeds (6-11, 11-9, 13-15, 11-7, 11-3, 7-11, 13-11).

The defeat came after Cecilia Akpan and Offiong Edem, the no.4 seeds, had been beaten by Egypt’s Nadeen El-Dawlatly and Dina Meshref, the top seeds (11-3, 11-7, 7-11, 4-11, 12-10, 15-13).

“I think we played better after we won the first game; they started to raise their game and we lost concentration, after being two-nil ahead”, said Dina Meshref. “We figured out that they were rushing us, we slowed down the game and this gave us an edge to win.”

Table Tennis Queen, Oshonaike Solicits Support For Quadri

QuadriOutstanding Nigerian female table tennis player, Funke Oshonaike, believes that the achievements of Aruna Quadri has restored the lost glory of the sport, not only in Nigeria but also in Africa.

Oshonaike, who is based in Germany, confirmed that she was not really surprised by the successes recorded by Quadri, but also understands that for him to remain at the top of his game, the world’s 30th ranked player needs support.

“I am sure that the world now knows that Nigeria is a force to reckon with in table tennis. The feat of Quadri has vindicated us that with support, table tennis can bring more glory to Nigeria.

“For me, Quadri is a hard-working player who plays the game with passion and that is what every player needs to succeed. He spent his time and resources to improve and the result has been coming.

“I knew that he (Quadri) will become a great player but I never expected it to come so soon because since I have been playing for more than two decades, no African player has made it to the top 30 in the world.

“This is indeed a history for the whole continent and we should indeed support him because he still has the ability to make it to the top 10 in the world,” she said.

The former African table tennis queen believes now is the time for the government and corporate organizations to give attention to table Quadritennis.

“What football could not achieve, table tennis has done and this must give them the opportunity to support the game. We are indeed very happy with this and we hope that other players will be supported alongside Quadri to continue to shine,” Oshonaike said.

Oshonaike, who was with the Nigerian team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, charged female players in the country to step up their game and start winning again.

“I am pained that our female players are not matching up with their male counterparts in terms of standard and quality. When we started some years back, we were so disciplined and determined but these days, our players are not ready to work hard and maintain discipline.

“This is one of my priorities for now and that is why I will like to tutor them so that they can imbibe the characteristics that aided some of us to still be playing now,” she said.

She added, “A lot of people are still baffled that I am still active even in my club in Germany. But I want them to know that it was the discipline I imbibed when I started the game that has kept me far. So players must be disciplined and train hard to be among the best in life. If you are doing well in the game, the success will be for you alone so discipline remains the key to success.”

However, the five-time Olympian is not ready to quit the sport that has brought her fame, “I will continue to play as long as my body still carries me. So for me, table tennis has become part of me and I am really in love with the game. It is my body that will tell me to stop,” Oshonaike explained.

Olufunke Oshonaike was born October 28 1975. She competed for Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics.