by Wade Townsend
Italy’s Alessandro Baciocchi, currently standing at No.341 on the World Rankings, is the top player in action in the Men’s Singles on day one of qualification at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open.
Baciocchi’s main competition in securing a place in the main draw will come from Nigeria’s Akinwale Fagbamila, who will surely have a exuberant crowd backing him to cause an upset.
India’s Sarthak Gandhi, with a World Ranking of 367, is looking to capitalise on his country’s current good form on the tour. Last month at the Australian Open, India surprised everyone and were causing upsets left, right and centre. If Gandhi does progress to the main draw, he will definitely be one to watch.
Meanwhile, hometown hopes are with Makanjuola Kazeem, who leads the Nigerian charge in the qualification rounds.
In the Women’s Singles once again it is Italy occupying top spot in the qualifiers. Giorgia Piccolin is standing at No.267 in the world, and is the top player on duty on day one. She has already accounted for players inside the top 200 this year on the Challenge Series, so a place in the main event looks on the horizon.
Egypt’s Yousra Helmy is the host continent’s highest ranked athlete taking the court. But she has some hurdles to the main draw, with her group being filled out by two players from the host nation. Continental compatriots won’t be spared today.
But all eyes will be on Nigeria’s Cecilia Akpan, who will be shouldering local hopes on the first day of action.
Qualifications day one get underway at 9:30am local time.