After spending his first year as an undergraduate student at New York University in United States, 19-year-old Indian sensation, Mudit Dani has decided to take a foray into the senior cadre when he competes at the ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open.
Also on Tuesday, the contingents of India and China are expected to touch down in Lagos in readiness for the qualifying round of the championship holding on August 8 to 12 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.
In 2017 when Mudit Dani was studying Management in US, Mudit Dani was away from international scene but he was active as an undergraduate in his school.
Mudit Dani, a former ITTF Junior Circuit champion will be playing his first senior tournament in Lagos come August 8 to 12 but he is unperturbed by the pedigree of stars heading to Nigeria.
“Yes this is my first ever appearance on ITTF’s 3 tier Professional Platform (Challenge Series/World Tour/Platinum Tour) and I would like to thank Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) for giving me this opportunity,” he said.
Speaking on what he knew about Nigeria Open, Mudit Dani said: “Talking to the Indian players who played at last year’s Nigeria Open, I heard that it is one of the best events to play at. The stands are full of loud and enthusiastic supporters that appreciate and understand table tennis. They are extremely proud of their Nigerian players but also show a lot of love and support to international players – something that is not so common at other world events. In short, they make you feel warm and encourage you to do your best, and I can’t wait to play in front of them.”
Reeling out his exploit as a junior player, the Indian star said: “Thanks to TTFI, I represented India at 16 World Junior Circuit events where I won 20 medals (3 Gold, 5 Silver, and 12 Bronze) in singles, doubles and teams events. I was ranked as high as number 10 on the ITTF World Junior Boys’ Standings and qualified twice for the ITTF World Junior Circuit Grand Finals (an invitational event for the top 16 players at the end of the year).”
Explaining how he got the chance to be part of the Indian team to Lagos, Mudit Dani said: “With India’s top few players preparing for the Asian Games in August, the next few players including some young upcoming players have been given a chance to play at the Nigeria Open. This would be the perfect chance for us to prove ourselves on the world platform and gain experience of playing on the senior circuit.”
Despite the pedigree of players competing at this year’s Nigeria Open, Mudit Dani said: “I just received a confirmation of my participation a few hours ago, and the excitement hasn’t completely sunk in yet. To be very honest, I haven’t gone through the list of players very closely just as yet, but I can see that many high ranked players are coming.
“Finishing on the podium would be a dream comes true in my first senior event, but my main aim for this event would be to express myself and play to my potential against the best of the best in the world. Just competing and interacting with players I have grown up watching on YouTube and TV is going to be a fantastic experience. I think I will be coming in with no expectations as the famous saying goes “expectation is the mother of all frustration.” Being my first senior event, I just hope to be able to bring out my A-game, play hard, yet fair and soak in this valuable experience. Irrespective of results, this tournament will surely be a very special few days in Lagos. I can’t wait to get started.”