by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In his opening encounter Nurudeen Hassan beat Italy’s 15 year old John Oyebode, at no.289 on the Under 21 Men’s World Rankings, the highest rated player in the initial phase of proceedings. Most impressively, Nurudeen Hassan won in three straight games (11-5, 11-9, 12-10).
Defeat for John Oyebode but on his second visit to the table, it was success; he overcame Etim Orok, also from Nigeria (13-15, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5). First place depends on the concluding group match contest between Nurudeen Hassan and Etim Orok.
Hopes of progress to the main draw still alive for John Oyebode, players finishing in first and second places in each of the six groups join the four seeds in the main draw; for Amadi Omeh, listed at no.444 on the current Under 21 Men’s World Rankings, all hope has gone.
He was beaten by Nigerian colleagues, Joseph Osedunkwu (11-3, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7) and Jamiu Ayanwale (11-6, 10-12, 11-9, 6-11, 13-11). Joseph Osedunkwu and Jamiu Ayanwale, who meet in the concluding group stage match, are guaranteed main draw places.
Defeats for two notable names, for three more it was a day without defeat. Egypt’s Mahmoud Helmy alongside the host nation’s Tobi Falana and Abayomi Animasahun, the highest rated players in the respective groups, all ended the day unbeaten and with eyes set on a main draw place.
Meanwhile, in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event, where only players finishing in first place progress to join the four seeds in the quarter-finals, six players ended the day unbeaten.
Nigeria’s Agnes Onoja, Alimot Ayinla, Nimota Aregbesola, Onyinyechi Mbah and Abosede Odusanya enjoyed a successful day, as did South Africa’s Simeen Mookrey.
Play in the first stage of the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s Singles events concludes in Thursday 10th August.