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TABLE TENNIS: Women singles championship serves off Friday; N600,000 at stake

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Female table tennis players across Nigeria will be battling one another at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium from tomorrow (Friday).

It is the maiden edition of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) National Women Singles Open Championship, with N600,000 prize money that is at stake.

The two-day tournament will be used to rate the players while the winner will go home with N200,000 for her efforts.

Already, the players have used the just concluded All African Games trials as a warm-up for the championship sponsored by the President of NTTF, Eng Ishaku Tikon.

Southpaw Fatimo Bello defied all odds to humble the likes of Cecilia Otu-Akpan and national sports festival champion, Ajoke Ojomu to emerge as champion at the All Africa Games trial and all eyes will be on the Lagos State-born athlete who is yet to feature for the national team since her emergence in the last two years.

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Pained by the defeat she suffered against Bello, Abuja-based Ojomu will be hoping to re-enact the form that saw her claim the National Sports Festival at the expense of veteran Otu-Akpan.

All participating players are to have a valid NTTF License to be able to compete in the championship.

For NTTF President, Engr Ishaku Tikon, the trial has been an eye-opener for the federation and a dress rehearsal for the women singles tournament.

“Already several tournaments are lined up for this year in Africa and we cannot afford to play second fiddle in such competition and that is why we have decided to focus on the female players so that we can raise their standard in the game.

“The first step is to identify the talented ones among them before exposing them to world class coaching and tournaments. We are expecting players at junior and senior levels to be part of the competition and we will ensure that the identified ones are groomed to become world beaters just like their male counterparts,” Tikon said.

The tournament according to NTTF would serve as selection of team for major events while players within and outside Nigeria are expected to be part of the championship.

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