ZLATKO Cordas, who has seen the ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open evolve as one of the most important events since its inception in 1994, takes pride in his role as the Qatar Table Tennis Association’s (QTTA) Technical Advisor.
“I came to Doha as the coach of German team for the first edition. That was my first visit to Qatar. Three years later, I was employed with the ITTF as tournament co-ordinator before I joined the QTTA in 2003,” Cordas told Doha Stadium Plus on the sidelines of ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open, which concluded at the Ali bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena last Sunday.
“The QTTA’s organisational ability is one of the main reasons behind the Qatar Open’s huge success. When you see Olympic and world’s top-ranked players compete in Doha, it says a lot about the tournament’s quality,” he said.
The Qatar Open, which started in 1994, is now one of the six platinum events and among the best on the ITTF calendar.
“Huge appearance money is given to top stars to compete in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open tennis every year, but Olympic and world champions spend from their pockets to participate in Qatar Open. That’s something we take pride in.
“The QTTA doesn’t spend a single penny on players. They themselves take care of everything. We only provide them with logistics support. Still, they come every year because they know it’s a top and well-organised event,” said Cordas, who had represented erstwhile Yugoslavia in the 1970s.
The ITTF had done away with the Super Series events and divided the tournaments into two categories — the World Tour Platinum and World Tour.
Besides Qatar Open, the tournaments in Japan, China, Australia, Austria and Germany were included in the Platinum category while those in Hungary, India, South Korea, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Sweden became World Tour events.
“The ITTF divided the tournaments based on the organisation and infrastructure. It also wanted to reduce the number of events which was close to 40 in a calendar year,” added the Croatia-born German.
Asked about the tournament’s progress, the 69-year-old said, “It has got better after every year. In the first year, only 25 players competed and this edition saw 195 paddlers from 42 countries in action. The infrastructure is fantastic and that gives everyone a really good feeling.”
Cordas gave credit to QTTA chief Khaleel Ahmed Al Mohannadi for reposing his faith in him and the team.
“I thank the QTTA and Al Mohannadi for their excellent support. We’re a team and we did our best,” Cordas said.