by Ian Marshall, Editor
Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus was the men’s runner up in 1999 in Bremen, he was beaten by Liu Guoliang in the final, now the President of the China Table Tennis Association.
Overall since winning in 1996 in Italy, when accounting for Canada’s Johnny Huang in the final, the record reads 27 ITTF World Tour men’s singles titles; if you wish you can add one more to his open international tournament credit list. He won the men’s singles event on the ITTF Challenge Series in 2017 in Belarus.
Now in 2020, it is a somewhat different scenario, he must compete in the qualification stage which commences on Tuesday 28th January.
However, whatever beholds Vladimir Samsonov in the new decade, in addition ten times an ITTF World Tour men’s singles runner up plus the Grand Finals silver medallist in 1996 in Tianjin, the winner one year later in Hong Kong, the numbers are quite incredible.
It is the very same when the ITTF World Tour is considered; in 1995 international open tournaments were on the wane, an injection was need, a meeting was held in Vancouver and the ITTF Pro Tour, later the name changed to the ITTF World Tour, was born.
Now, as in 2019, there are 12 ITTF World Tour events, one more on the Challenge Series calendar; overall 25 tournaments.
Until January 2017, Challenge Series tournaments were part of the ITTF World Tour.
In 1996, ten tournaments were staged, the first being in April in England; when New Year’s Day dawned on Saturday 1st December 2000, a total of 46 tournaments in a four year period had been staged. Just over 11 per year, compare that number with today!
Between the start of the millennium and the end of 2009, the ten year period witnessed 136 such tournaments; from the start of 2010 to the end of 2019, including both the ITTF World Tour and ITTF Challenge Series the total was 199 in number.
Since 2017, the number of ITTF World Tour tournaments has remained, as per policy, consistent, a total of 12 being the agreed annual complement. Notably, in 2020 as in 2019 there are 13 Challenge Series tournaments.
A most healthy situation, the age of the ITTF World Tour is a period of major progress, it is also the career of one player above all others, the career of Vladimir Samsonov.