By Kristel Satumbaga
Jann Mari Nayre and Rose Jean Fadol inched closer to gaining berths to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after impressive victories in the World Table Tennis Singles Qualification Tournament in Doha, Qatar early Monday.
Nayre, who made history as the first Filipino table tennis player to compete in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, stunned world No. 68 Lubomir Pistej of Slovakia, 7-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-3, 11-9, to barge into the men’s quarterfinals against Italian Niagol Stoyanov.
The PH bet was coming off an 11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-2 victory over Daniel Kogans of Latvia in the Round of 32 of the Knockout 1 bracket.
Fadol, for her part, stormed into the women’s semifinals with a hard-earned 11-6, 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 5-11, 8-11, 11-9 win over world No. 71 Debora Vivarelli of Italy.
The world No. 530 Filipino player arranged a meeting with Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska in the Knockout 2 bracket.
Four slots in men’s and five slots in women’s divisions are at stake in the tournament, with the winner of each bracket advancing to the Olympics.
The last time the country sent a table tennis player to the Olympics was in 2016 when the late Ian Lariba competed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The men’s event were divided into three knockout brackets, with losing finalists and semifinalists from Stage 1 will still have a chance in another knockout phase for the remaining fourth spot.
The women’s division, meanwhile, had four knockout brackets, with losing finalists and semifinalists also heading for another knockout stage for the remaining fifth seat.
Other Filipinos failed to advance that include John Russel Misal, who yielded to Bence Majoros of Hungary, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, in the Round of 16 of the Knockout 2 bracket, and Jannah Romero, who bowed to Serbia’s Sabina Surjan, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 11-4, in the Round of 16 of the Knockout 3 bracket.
So far, the country has four Olympic qualifiers in pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, and boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial. ,