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World Table Tennis - The ITTF Pro-Tour

World table tennis took a giant leap forward in 1996...
That was the year the ITTF Pro-Tour arrived.

World Table Tennis ITTF Pro Tour logo

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) took a bold step in 1996 when they initiated a brand new premier competition... one that was specifically designed to attract the best players in the world...

The ITTF Pro Tour.

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How it all began

During the early 1990s, the ITTF had noticed a steady decline in top players competing in International Open Tournaments.

This was of considerable concern to the ITTF ... and to the organisers of those tournaments.

But why had it happened?

Well, the best players in world table tennis had discovered that they could earn a better living by playing elsewhere, in many cases by playing for club teams.

European players in particular were reaping significant financial rewards by competing in the German Bundesliga ... a competition which first started in the 1966/67 season and which has continued to be the premier european league competition ever since.


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A new concept was born

The ITTF therefore initiated a brand new premier competition ... one that was specifically designed to attract the best players in world table tennis...

The ITTF Pro-Tour ... a Grand Prix series which involves players earning points at various International Opens in order to qualify for a financially lucrative Grand Prix Final event.

Although the idea was still in its infancy and the necessary sponsorship and television deals were still being developed, the 61st English Open held from 3-8 April 1996 was the first event to be held under the new ITTF Pro Tour banner.


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A resounding success

Right from the beginning, the ITTF Pro Tour was a resounding success.

The increased prize money and superior organisation ensured that participation in these new international events increased, and in particular, the best players in world table tennis once again began to participate.

Each tournament holds events for:

  • Men's singles
  • Women's singles
  • Men's doubles
  • Women's doubles
  • Under 21 years Men's singles
  • Under 21 years Women's singles

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How many players take part?

The maximum number of entries for each event is 170-415, depending on the number of tables being used.

In the men's singles event the top 32 ranked players receive a direct entry into the tournament as seeded players.

The first round of the tournament is the round of 64 so this means that 32 places are available in the main draw for players who win their way through round-robin qualifier groups, and/or preliminary rounds.

Therefore, due to the popularity of these events and the large number of entrants, only a small number of players who enter each tournament even manage to qualify for the first round.

This ensures that the standard of play remains very high.


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Points mean prizes

The players compete in Pro Tour events around the world and earn points according to how well they perform.

The winner of the singles title receive between 2,800 points at the least important event, and up to 33,000 points for the top event.

But in order to qualify for the financially lucrative end of year Pro Tour Grand Finals, a player must also have competed in at least six tournaments or have played on at least three continents.

And in order to qualify for the doubles events at the grand finals, a pair must have competed in at least four tournaments together.

The top 15 players in the singles events and the top 7 pairs in the doubles events who meet those qualifying criteria, will be invited to participate in the prestigious Pro Tour Grand Finals.

In addition, the ITTF will invite one man and one woman from the association hosting the Pro Tour Grand Finals.

If a player from the host association is already amongst the 15 invited players, then the 16th player in order will be invited.


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Prize money

The prize money varies from tournament to tournament, but the overall purse for 2011 was $2,535,000.

The top event, the (second) China Open in August 2011, offered a total purse of $330,000 ... with the men's and women's singles winners receiving $33,000 each.

The Morocco Open offered the least amount of prize money, with a $20,000 total purse. The men's and women's singles winners received $2,800 each.

The Pro Tour Grand Finals offered a total prize fund of $365,000 ... with the men's and women's singles winners collecting $40,000 each and the men's and women's doubles winners collecting $20,000.


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ITTF World Tour

In 2012, after 15 years of solid success, the ITTF took the Pro Tour to the next level and re-named it the ITTF World Tour and you can read about it here.


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MORE PAGES ABOUT
THE ITTF WORLD TOUR
For more information about the ITTF World Tour, take a look at my other articles...

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And get Exclusive Information via Email AllAboutTableTennis

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