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World Table Tennis Day may be taking place on Wednesday, April 6, but the celebrations started early when hundreds of players competed in the World Table Tennis Day Tournament at Al Wasl Sports Club in Dubai.

More than 200 players from clubs and academies across the UAE competed in five divisions: under 15 boys, under 15 girls, men’s open, women’s open, and over-40 mixed.

Mohsen Eldemerdash, technical director of organizers UAE Badminton and Table Tennis Association, said: “The tournament was a great success, it is fantastic to see players from all across the UAE come together for this event.

“Table tennis is making great strides in the UAE, and bringing together players from the individual clubs and academies is another important step in the development of the sport here.

“Our competitors ranged in age from nine years to 63-years-old, showing that table tennis is truly a sport for all.”

Before the competition got underway on Friday, participants were treated to an exhibition match between two of the UAE’s top players, Abdullah Albalooshi and Noura Almaazmi, who will both be competing in the Dubai Table Tennis Asian Cup from April 28-30 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

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Albalooshi, who is busy training for the upcoming event, was pleased to see so many people competing in the World Table Tennis Day tournament. He said: “I started playing table tennis when I joined Al Ahli club at just eight years old.

“At the time I was more interested in football, but the coaches at my club discovered I had a talent for table tennis and encouraged me to pursue it.

“Soon I was winning lots of competitions and as I got better and better I fell in love with the sport, and now I’m preparing to play alongside some of China’s greats, like Xu Xin and Jike Zhang at the Dubai Asian Cup later this month.”

Noura Almaazmi took up table tennis when she found her previous sport of chess didn’t challenge her enough physically. She said: “Table tennis is such an amazing game as it contains both body movements and brain skills. I believe once you start playing table tennis you will never want to stop.

“Now I’m training for the Asian Cup, It’s an honor to participate in such tournaments, I believe that playing with higher ranked players will allow me to benefit from the skills that they have and work on my own game more.”

World Table Tennis Day activities

An ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) initiative, supported by Dubai Sports Council, the UAE Table Tennis Association and Ping Pong Dubai, World Table Tennis Day will continue on Wednesday, April 6 with a corporate challenge which will be held in the Atrium at DIFC. Entry is free and is open to all, from novices to competitive players. Players can register online in advance: here. On the day, registration will commence at 6pm and the knock out competition in men’s and women’s singles will commence at 6.30pm.

Free-to-Play tables will also be available for all to enjoy in DIFC on April 6, in front of Caramel Restaurant from 11am to 6pm, as well as at Dubai Design District, D3, from 5pm-8pm. For those looking for more opportunities to hone their skills, Free-to-Play tables are also at Ripe Market in Zabeel Park every Friday until April 21.

The Dubai Table Tennis Asian Cup offers the chance to watch some of the world’s leading players in action, , including London 2012 gold medallist, Zhang Jike, and defending Asian Cup champion and World No 3 Xu Xin. The tournament is free to attend at Zabeel Hall 1 in the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 28-30.