by Wade Townsend
The athletes will have to deal with Bangkok’s simmering heat as they take the court on day one of qualifications for the ITTF Challenge Thailand Open. However, there will be some recompense as they will be competing in a venue with the rather appealing name of Fashion Island.
The Under 21 Singles will kick the morning off with players from all corners of the globe stepping out to compete, with representatives from Belgium to Australia in action looking to survive the groups and qualify for a place in the main draw. Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong look set to dominate the opening day, while all eyes should be on the Singapore and Thailand team members as they are best set to upset the seeding.
The Men’s Singles will follow in the Fashion Island arena. Sanil Shetty (IND) with a world ranking of 265 is the highest ranked player in the qualification rounds of the Men’s Singles and is the player to beat. But if you’re looking for some bang for your buck then Scotland’s Gavin Rumgay in group three will provide some entertaining opening encounters. Local players Yanapong Panagitgun and Pattaratorn Passara both head a group in the Men’s Singles and will be eager to secure a place in the main event later in the week to keep Thailand’s flag flying.
In the Women’s Singles, Zhu Chengzhu (HKG) leads the pack, only narrowly missing out on direct qualification. Meanwhile the crowd will be looking to get behind Thailand’s Orowan Paranang and Jinnipa Sawettabut, who both have top position in their respective groups. Upsets could be on the near horizon. Players should beware the South Korean athletes that sit at fourth place in their groups; they will undoubtedly prove tougher opponents than a mere number suggests.
Checkout the full list of matches for day one of qualifications here.
Matches will get underway at 10am local time (GMT+7).