UAE table tennis and badminton joined forces over the weekend to celebrate UAE National Sports Day with the UAE Table Tennis and Badminton Women’s Open Championships at Dubai Design District.
The competition was organised across four age categories in table tennis and three categories in badminton in a round robin competition before the knockout rounds.
The preliminary rounds were held on Thursday, with the finals and over 18s playing on Friday.
The Table Tennis Championship also welcomed two Kuwaiti clubs; Salwa Al Sabbah Sports Club and Al Fatat Sports Club.
The badminton competition saw 63 matches contested, with the under-13 category won by Nidhi Shailendra Desai from Dubai after victory over Rinitha Rajith of Ajman.
The under 17 category was one of the most hotly contested of the tournament, with young star Tanisha Crasto adding to her impressive tally of victories in the region with a win over Nidha Abdul Najeeb.
In the women’s doubles, it was another close affair with the pairing of Palwasha Bashir and Nafeesah Sara Siraj claiming victory.
Five times Pakistan national champion Basheer and Siraj, a Kerala State champion and a Silver Medallist at the CBSE India Nationals, defeated Elme De Villiers and Amritha Kuttikrishnan in the finals.
The table tennis was contested in four age groups, under 12, under 15, under 18 and over 18 years of age, with 142 matches in total.
Melody Van Es won the under 12 category, while Theola Johnes defeated Christy Joseph in the final of the under 15s and Aishwarya Chockalingam overcame Soniya Bhat to take the under 18 title. The over 18 category was won by Jaymee Yanga, with Menwa Majid the runner-up.
Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto has the chance to become the youngest ever ITTF World Tour Champion, after the 13-year-old made it into the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open Men’s Singles final.
The 2016 Junior World Champion will play world number six, and London 2012 bronze medalist Dimitrij Ovtacharov (GER) in the final today for his chance to write his name into the history books again.
Harimoto, who is coached by his father is no stranger to breaking records, being the youngest ITTF World Tour under 21 champion at just 12 years of age, and the youngest Junior World Champion at 13.
Harimoto is now the youngest ever finalist at 13 years and 237 days old, but if the Japanese sensation wins, he will break YU Ziyang’s (CHN) record of being the youngest ITTF World Tour winner at 16 years and 30 days old when Yu won the 2014 ITTF World Tour Japan Open.
On heading into the biggest match of his life, Harimoto stated: “I have been practicing long long hours. I was around 4 years old when I started playing table tennis. I have been working hard ever since.I never expected that I will be in finals, so I am very happy.”
“This is my first final at the World Tour, I am thrilled to be here. I am not thinking about the rankings and records. The crowd has been fantastic, and I am looking forward to the final.”
This feat will not be easy, as Ovtacharov has won his last two events over the past weeks, and has regain the form that has made him the most feared European player.
The women’s final will be contested between Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm and Japan’s Sakura Mori.
Legendary Korean defender Joo Saehyuk was the latest player to take part in the ITTF’s #AskAProAnything challenge, giving the fans a rare glimpse into one of table tennis’ most renowned players.
Joo, the 2003 World Championships runner-up and a silver medallist at the London Olympics in 2012, says he got into table tennis because he didn’t like to study. Realizing this, his parents pushed him towards sports, which ultimately led to his table tennis career.
The table tennis legend is a huge sports fan, especially Premier League football, as well as baseball in America and Korea. He enjoys playing other sports, including football, baseball, basketball, and volleyball.
Outside of sport, Joo says he loves listening to Queen, citing Bohemian Rhapsody as one of his favorite songs.
Watch the 37-year-old provide a short rendition of the classic rock hit uploaded to ITTF’s official YouTube channel!