by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
However, it was two players somewhat at the other end of the experience scale who caught the eye in the initial stage; two players who have been absent from the international scene for almost six years and have been lured back to action.
Furthermore, both remained unbeaten to top their respective groups and thus now join several of their younger brethren in the main draw.
Welcome back 40 year old Monday Merotohun and 42 year old Kazeem Nasiru; both players who have achieved what their teenage compatriots aspire to achieve.
In 2003 Monday Merotohun secured the Africa Cup title in Senegal; seven years earlier in Nairobi, Kazeem Nosiru won the Men’s Singles event at the 1996 African Championships.
The farewell for both came in 2011 at the All African Games in Mozambique, both departed with medals.
They were members of the silver medal winning Men’s Team. Additionally, Kazeem Nosiru was a Men’s Singles quarter-finalist, whilst Monday Merotohun won Mixed Doubles silver in partnership with Olufunke Oshonaike and Men’s Doubles bronze in harness with Segun Toriola.
In Lagos, the form of six years ago seemingly had not deserted experienced hands.
Monday Merotohun beat colleague Olasunkanmi Ogini (11-4, 5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4) and Ghana’s Emmanuel Commey (8-11, 11-4, 4-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-6); Kazeem Nasiru accounted for Etim Orok, also from Nigeria (11-6, 7-11, 3-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-4) and South Africa’s Theo Cogill (11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 12-14, 11-4).
Impressive performances and do more await, beware the veterans!