By Calvin Koh
Hungary Table Tennis Association (HTTA) President Roland Natran is pleased the success of the recently concluded WTT Contender Budapest has cast the spotlight on the growing popularity of table tennis globally.
“There is no question table tennis is facing a period of success, and there are tremendous opportunities ahead of us. I’m a big believer in WTT as the global brand for table tennis and the framework for developing and growing the sport.
“We’re at the beginning of the next important phase for table tennis with the WTT Series, and we are really happy to be the first to organise a WTT event in Europe. More importantly, I really hope we’ll not be the only one for the long haul, and I fully support all other countries and Member Associations to organise more WTT events,” said Natran.
Natran is proud that Hungary, with its distinguished table tennis history, deserved to be the ideal location for hosting the first WTT Series event in Europe.
“We have a fantastic history of table tennis in Hungary. Legends and the world-famous team of Gergely, Jonyer, and Klampar put Hungary on the world table tennis map. We started to set up our resources to organise great events in table tennis worldwide again from 2013 when we hosted the first World Tour event.
“That marked the beginning of growth with an annual World Tour event, and then the European Championships came along in 2016, which was a massive hit with lots of spectators. The 2019 ITTF World Championships was also very successful and would not have been possible without the strong support from the government,” said Natran.
Backed by the strong support and funding from the government, WTT Contender Budapest provided another playing opportunity for athletes. It went on to stamp its mark with all the hallmarks of a compelling table tennis spectacle.
“WTT Contender Budapest came just after the Olympic Games and before the European Championship in Romania. So, from a technical point of view, the players need to get prepared for European Championships. Budapest is very accessible from across Europe and an ideal city to hold the event. We also wanted to provide players with international playing opportunities again after COVID-19,” said Natran.
From stunning upsets to unforgettable comebacks and simply breath-taking masterclass from some of the world’s best table tennis players, WTT Contender Budapest has indeed captured the imagination of a global audience.
The newly launched WTT mobile app, the first global app to be made available for table tennis, along with its websites and social media channels, also allowed fans to get the latest news and scores on WTT Contender Budapest at their fingertips.
Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel made it a memorable week for the host nation with their Women’s Doubles glory after defeating Russian top seeds Olga Vorobeva and Yana Noskova 3-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-6).
19-year-old Truls Moregard, who stunned Nigerian number two seed Quadri Aruna in the quarter-final, became the second-youngest player to win the Men’s Singles title. Whilst Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin showed why she was the top seed at the event when she captured the Women’s Singles title with a convincing 4-0 win over young Russian Elizabet Abraamian.
“My ambitions are the same as WTT. I want to see table tennis grow, and I believe if we work together, we can achieve big things for the sport. This will also help develop Hungarian table tennis as we work hard to create the next generation of global table tennis legends here,” added Natran.
WTT Contender Budapest was the fourth-tier event within the WTT Series structure. It offered a total prize purse of US$75,000 and 400 ITTF Table Tennis World Ranking Points across Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles and Mixed Doubles competitions.
About WTT Contender Series
The WTT Contender Series, with its distinctive black and blue branding, features two event tiers – WTT Star Contender and WTT Contender. Players will battle it out for ITTF Table Tennis World Ranking points, as up-and-coming stars of the sport also look to rise up the ladder.
WTT Contender Series events will be the heartbeat of the WTT Series and provide a critical pathway for players to progress through the rankings and the new structure into WTT Champions and Grand Smash events.
WTT Contender events will deliver four days of action, with each event featuring men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles competitions
About World Table Tennis
Successfully launched in 2021, WTT heralds a new era for professional table tennis with the new WTT Series showcasing the sport’s best and up-and-coming table tennis players in up to 34 events worldwide. The WTT Series features four Grand Smashes as the pillars of the support. Eight single-table, single-gender WTT Champions events, the WTT Contender Series and the season-ending WTT Cup Finals, all of which will entertain fans and inspire future generations of table tennis players. Complemented by the global WTT Youth Series and WTT Feeder Series, WTT creates a pathway that showcases a player’s journey from day one to World No. 1 through the ITTF Table Tennis World Rankings. For more information, please visit worldtabletennis.com.