by Ian Marshall
Recently completed, in fact only one year old, the venue is “Saryarka” the National Table Tennis Centre located in Karaganda.
Officially, the premises opened on Monday 23rd November 2020, at a ceremony which Kassym-Jomart Kemeluly Tokayev, the President of Kazakhstan, attended; his presence underlining the importance of the sport of table tennis in the country.
Professional flooring and lighting, a total area of 4,500 square metres, the centre meets the highest international requirements; it can house for competitions 18 table tennis tables.
Also, there is a practice hall with nine tables, exercise equipment, a medical office, a conference room.
Thus the 2021 ITTF Kazakhstan International Open has been made possible, another step forward for the national association.
However, the country is no stranger to major table tennis events; in 2017, Astana, now known as Nur-Sultan, the capital city hosted the 2017 Star Awards Evening followed by the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.
Present on that occasion representing Kazakhstan was Kirill Gerassimenko; in Karaganda, he heads the men’s singles seeding ahead of Pavel Platonov of Belarus, Saudi Arabia’s Ali Alkhadrawi and India’s Mudit Dani.
Top of the women’s singles seeding is Anastassiya Lavrova, like Kirill Gerassimenko on duty at the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the first women from Kazakhstan to compete in the prestigious quadrennial event.
Saudi Arabia’s Ali Alkhadrawi and Abdulziz Bu Shulaybi occupy the top men’s doubles seeded spot, for the women that position is reserved by Russia’s Valeria Kotcyur and Valeria Shcherbatykh.
Kirill Gerassimenko and Anastassiya Lavrova possess the mixed doubles top place.
Play in the main draw commences on Friday 17th September.