The Indians are considered as one of the table tennis powerhouses in Commonwealth and they are gradually becoming a global brand in table tennis. For the first time in the history of the ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open, the Indians are coming with six of their best players.
A joker among the Indians coming to Lagos is Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who defied all odds to win the 2016 Belgium Open ahead of top players across the globe.
Eight years ago, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran missed out the Asian Junior title because of engineering, now he has become the second Indian to win a tour title. He entered the 2016 Belgium Open seeded 25, but the Tamil Nadu-based star transcended his performances to take down six higher seeds including Sweden’s Harold Andersen in the semis, to book a first ever ITTF tour finals spot. The magnitude of this achievement was that he was only the second Indian ever to achieve this feat.
Like Gnanasekaran, Sanil Shetty is another giant killing Indian, who decade ago at the 2007 India Junior and Cadet Open in New Delhi, reached the semi-final stage of the Junior Boys’ Singles event.
And earlier this year at the 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open, Sanil Shetty currently listed at no.201 on the Men’s World Rankings, now 27 years old, caused the biggest upset of the year in his second Men’s Singles encounter. After accounting for colleague Ronit Bhanja in four straight games (11-8, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8), he overcame the Czech Republic’s Lubomir Jancarik, named at no.94 in the global order; not only did he win, he prevailed in a most dramatic seven games full distance duel (12-14, 12-10, 8-11, 11-4, 8-11, 12-10, 16-14). Gnanasekaran and Shetty will be joined in the three-man men’s team by Sarthak Gandhi for the Lagos trip.
The three-man female team will be led by Krittwika Roy while others are Mallika Bhandarkar and Reeth Tennison on their first trip to Nigeria for the $46,000 prize money championships which serves off on August 9 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.