Egyptians Omar Assar and Dina Meshref on Sunday won the Men’s and female Singles title respectively at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open in Lagos.
The 26 year old Assar beat surprised No.2 finalist, Sarthak Gandhi in the final (11-6, 13-11, 11-6, 11-8), the 23 year old Indian having started his journey four days earlier in the qualification tournament.
While, Africa’s No1 female ranked player, Meshref, was third time lucky on Sunday, winning the women’s singles final against Olga Kulikova of Russia at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, Nigeria.
Meshref who lost out in the final of the ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open in two successive years outclassed Kulikova in straight sets 4-11, 14-16, 10-12, 6-11 to the delight of the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode who was in attendance.
It was for Omar Assar, his third success in the tournament and thus he maintained his unbeaten record at open international tournaments in Nigeria. Since the tournament joined the ITTF World Tour in 2014; in Lagos, he has never lost a Men’s Singles match.In the inaugural year he beat colleague, El-Sayed Lashin in the title decider; one year later in 2015, he secured the top prize at the final expense of the host nation’s Quadri Aruna.
Unfortunately in 2016, owing to commitments in the French League, he did not play but the title very nearly stayed within the family; younger brother Khalid was beaten by Finland’s Benedek Olah in the final.
Furthermore, the success means that Omar Assar remains the only Egyptian and only African to win a Men’s Singles title on either the ITTF World Tour or ITTF World Series; also there has been only one other occasion when an African has reached such a final.