by Ian Marshall
Quite simply, following the WTT Star Contender tournament staged in the same venue , the Qatar Table Tennis Association in conjunction with the Asian Table Tennis Union and the International Table Tennis Federation have taken matters to new heights.
On the opening day of play, the first division in each of the men’s team and women’s team events was the subject; the ultimate goal a place in the championship division. It was an opportunity for member associations whose realistic hopes of reaching the later rounds at an Olympic Games or World Championships are minimal.
Most importantly, it was a chance to compete in surroundings that would befit both prestigious tournaments.
Speaking to the world’s leading players, many will tell you, provide the conditions and naturally we raise our standard, one follows the other.
No contest more illustrated that fact than the men’s team fixture that pitched Kyrgyzstan against Kuwait; the engagement went the full five match distance, all attacking top spin players, not a defender in sight, the duel lasted a quite incredible two hours and 40 minutes!
Man of the moment for Kyrgyzstan was Talgat Sagyndkov; in the second encounter he beat Mansour Al-Enezy (11-4, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5), in the fourth he won the “match of the day”.
He recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Marzooq Alrashidi by the very narrowest of decisions in the fifth deciding game (10-12, 8-11, 14-12, 11-5, 15-13).
It is a match he will never forget and one that endorsed the theory that if the premises are state-of-the art, players respond.
Rather less dramatically, Akylbek Kasymov accounteed for Mansour Al-Enezy to seal the victory (11-7, 11-9, 14-12).
Success for Kyrgyzstan, defeat for Kuwait but without any doubt, a contest fit the occasion.