Table Tennis: Singapore to host star-studded inaugural WTT Cup Finals

(Clockwise from left) World No. 11 Feng Tianwei, Chen Meng and Fan Zhendong will be playing at the OCBC Arena. PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO, REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Olympic champions Chen Meng and Fan Zhendong, as well as Singapore's Feng Tianwei, will exhibit their world-class table tennis skills at the OCBC Arena when Singapore hosts the first World Table Tennis Cup Finals from Dec 4 to 7.

On Thursday (Nov 25), the WTT confirmed the US$600,000 (S$819,000) event will feature 16 of the world's top 20 players from each of the men's and women's singles categories, with equal prize money awarded.

With safe management measures in place, a maximum of 900 fans will be allowed to attend each session. All participants must be fully vaccinated with a vaccine recognised by the Singapore Government or undertake pre-event testing.

World No. 11 Feng, who has been based in Japan for more than a year and is currently in the United States to play in the World Table Tennis Championships, told The Straits Times she is looking forward to returning home.

The 35-year-old said: "It is great that such a big table tennis event could be held in Singapore and I can get a chance to play an international tournament at home.

"I do miss home and I can't wait to catch up with friends and eat my favourite local food like durian and bak kut teh (pork rib soup)."

Sales of the tickets priced from $38 to $258 will start from 3pm, Friday, through the OCBC Arena box office, Sistic authorised agents, and phone hotline (+65 6348-5555).

After weeks of collaborating with Sport Singapore to make this event happen, WTT director Steve Dainton said: "The table tennis community and Singapore share a special bond and we are delighted that Singapore becomes the first-ever host of the WTT Cup Finals.

"We are looking forward to further strengthening our partnership with the Lion City and to continuing hosting world-class events there."

The last time top table tennis players appeared in Singapore was when the T2 Diamond Singapore event was held in 2019, with 1,900 fans turning up for the finals at Our Tampines Hub.

Sport Singapore chief Lim Teck Yin added: "We are honoured to be the host city for the inaugural WTT Cup Finals. Staging the event in Singapore signals our commitment to bring sport back safely for everyone. The WTT Cup Finals is an excellent opportunity to enliven our local table tennis community and inspire more young athletes to engage in the sport."

Singapore Table Tennis Association president Ellen Lee said: "We are so excited that the WTT Cup Finals is coming to Singapore. I know that our Singapore table tennis fans are already looking forward to seeing top class players in action... and STTA will lend our support to making the tournament a success."

The WTT is a commercial vehicle which the International Table Tennis Federation launched in 2020. It announced a new event structure in March last year that will see the total prize money on its circuit more than double to US$13 million (S$17.4 million) a year.

Modelled after tennis' Grand Slams, the top tier will have four Grand Smash tournaments, with each 10-day event featuring 64 men and women's singles players in the main draw, as well as doubles competitions. It is understood Singapore is in the running to host one of these next year.

There will be three other tiers under the WTT series. These include the WTT Cup Finals and the WTT Champion Series, which has four male and female events for the 32 highest-ranked paddlers.

Lower-ranked and up-and-coming players can compete in the WTT Contender series, which is split into the Star Contender and Contender competitions, which allows for more qualifiers.

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