by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews: Olalekan Okusan)
It is for Youssef Abdel-Aziz his third appearance at a World Junior Championships but as yet, the now 16 year old has not made his presence felt. In Shanghai in 2014 was beaten in the opening round of the Boys’ Singles event by China Xu Fei; last year in France he finished in third place in his group behind Belgium’s Laurens Devos and Jack Wang of the United States, thus he did not advance to the main draw.
“I hope that I can go beyond the group stage and I hope that I can progress from there to the quarter-finals; I will always give my best, if I can make it to the quarter-final stage, it will be a big plus in my career. There are lots of good players here in South Africa particularly the Asians they are dominant. Sometimes the Europeans find it hard to break their dominance; so for me it is going to be a big task to make it to the last eight of the singles”, Youssef Abdel-Aziz.
Patriotic to his country but Youssef Abdel-Aziz spends a great deal of his time in Germany where he plays for Hohenstein in the third division of Bundesliga League; that experience places him in good stead for the challenges he will confront in Cape Town.
“We hope to go far in the team event because we have a strong side and we are hoping to advance from the first round of the event. In France in 2015, I did not make it from the group but I believe I can qualify this year; I have been preparing during the last three weeks in Egypt with my club Al-Ahly”, Youssef Abdel-Aziz.
Meanwhile, for Amira Yousry, it is her second appearance in a World Junior Championships, the 18 year old having to balance top class sport with education. She is studying in Cairo at the Arab Academy for Science and Technology.
One year ago in France in the Girls’ Singles event she finished in third place in her group behind England’s Tin-Tin Ho and Hungary’s Leonie Hartbrich; thus she did not qualify for the main draw.
“In the team event, I am looking forward to a good outing beyond the last 16 which we reached in 2015. I am not too sure what will happen in the singles event because it is a tough competition; the Asian players attend more competitions than us, they are among the best in the world”, Amira Yousry.
Qualification for the main draw is the first task for Youssef Abdel-Aziz and Yousra Helmy.
In the Boys’ Team event Youssef Abdel-Aziz lines up alongside Omar Elhamady, Mahmoud Helmy and Karim Elhakem; Amira Yousry joins forces with Mariam Alhodaby, Sarah Abousetta and Shahd Kamal.