WTT Star Contender Championship returns to Doha for second time; tournament kicks off today
The second edition of the WTT Star Contender Championship, jointly organized by the Qatar Table Tennis Association (QTTA) and the World Table Tennis (WTT), will kick off today at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall in Lusail.
The tournament returns to Doha for the second time following the resounding success of the first edition hosted by Doha in March, and it offers 600 ITTF Table Tennis World Ranking points and a USD 200,000 total prize purse.
Over 160 top players from across the globe will start their campaign for glory from the qualifying rounds for the Men's Singles, Women's Singles, Men's Doubles and Women's Doubles, which take place from September 20-21.
Winners from the qualifying draw will then advance to the main round of action, which commences from September 22-25.
Finland's Benedek Olah and Singapore's Clarence Chew are two of the 47 challengers in the Men's Singles qualifying draw. In the Women's Singles qualifying draw, French teenager Prithika Pavade, India's Reeth Tennison and Ukraine's Solomiya Brateyko are some of the 25 hopeful female athletes vying for a place in the main draw.
Nigeria's Quadri Aruna will miss the event after being forced to withdraw due to injury. Therefore, the Republic of Korea's Lim Jonghoon will be automatically entered into the main draw.
Khalil Ahmad Al Mohannadi, President of the Arab Table Tennis Federation and Qatar Table Tennis Association (QTTA) and First Vice-President of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), said that the success of the first edition in Doha had played a significant role in the history of the recently established World Table Tennis. He noted that the best Asian players are keen to travel to Qatar thanks to its success in dealing with the pandemic.
"We are happy to be hosting the world again following the success of the first edition in March. Qatar has continued to play a strategic and important role in table tennis globally, and we will not relent in our efforts at ensuring the continuous growth of the sport. I wish all the participants a wonderful stay in Doha and best of luck during the championship," Mohannadi said.
WTT Star Contender Doha is Qatar's third WTT event in 2021, and it follows the highly successful WTT Contender Budapest, the first-ever WTT event held in Europe.
WTT Star Contender events sit within the third tier of the WTT Series as part of the revamped event structure that WTT, a commercial and events subsidiary of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), has created.
Three Afghan players given wildcards
Meanwhile, three Afghanistan athletes, Mustafa Bakhtiyari, Mohammad Hosseini and Behrooz Daneshmand will be participating in the championship.
While Bakhtiyari and Hosseini will compete in the Men’s Singles and Doubles Qualifying rounds, Daneshmand will feature in the Men’s Singles Qualifying round.
QTTA President Al Mohannadi said: “In times like this, we want to provide an opportunity for our Afghan table tennis athletes to compete and continue their professional table tennis journey.
“We are delighted to award them wildcards where they now have the opportunity to compete against some of the best table tennis players in the world. We are also assisting them with their visa and travel documents so that they will be ready to join us in Qatar as we get ready to showcase table tennis to the world again.”
Heleena Kakar, President of the Afghanistan Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), expressed her gratitude for the solidarity the international table tennis community has shown for her country and looks forward to seeing her athletes step up to the tables at the Lusail Sports Arena.
The tournament's organizing committee has confirmed that all the necessary health protocols are strictly followed in coordination with the Ministry of Public Health. All participating players have been vaccinated against COVID-19, in addition to periodically subjecting them to PCR tests and maintaining social distancing while wearing masks at all times.
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