As the 55th Asoju Oba Table Tennis Tournament kicks off in Lagos, many enthusiasts continue to wonder why the once glamorous table tennis event's allure keeps diminishing, especially with the 55th edition, which the organizers said would be low-key due to the present economic conditions of the country.
The Asoju Oba Table Tennis Tournament, arguably the biggest indigenous table tennis competition in Nigeria, has held table tennis fans captivated for years and has been a major competition on the calendar of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF).
The tournament, which usually features 22 events over five days, will only include 16 events over three days this year.
John Peters, the official referee for the tournament, said some top-ranked players would participate in the quarterfinals and finals stages of the competition.
He mentioned that although the tournament is low-key, he hopes that this year’s event will fulfill the ideals of the competition's founder.
“The family does not want to discontinue the competition, so they decided to do it on a low-key.
“They want to continue to carry on the legacy of their father, that is why we have 16 events instead of 22.
“The competition will also hold for three days instead of five days.
“We have men’s singles and doubles as well as women’s singles and doubles, and for para we have men and women’s singles classes six to ten,” he said.
Peters, who mentioned that 75 participants had registered for the tournament, noted that some players were seeded to play in the finals and quarterfinals because of their rankings.
“We have 55 male and 21 female. Out of the registered male participants, eight will go straight to the finals because of their current ranking.
“Others are pulled to 16 groups; two to qualify from each group to make 32 players and then they play knock out amongst themselves.
“First round knock out, second round knock out and first round will take them to the round of 16; second round takes them to round of 8.
“Then the eight will join the other eight players that had been seeded to the final round, also the women that had been seeded to the final round space because of their present rankings,” he said.
The men and women’s singles champions, Muiz Adegoke and Bose Odusanya, are also in the 55th edition ready for their title defenses at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Table Tennis Cup at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
The 2022 winners Adegoke, who dethroned David Fayele in 2022, are hoping to retain the title, having missed his first attempt at the title in 2021.