by Simon Daish, Interviews conducted by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Media Officer
Three of the four Junior Boys’ Singles semi-finalists are members of the Egyptian contingent with Ahmed Elborhamy, Karim Elhakem and Youssef Abdel-Aziz all registering victories in the last eight of the competition.
Not one of the three Egyptian competitors dropped a game in the quarter-finals as Ahmed Elborhamy saw off Atef Ben Salah by a 4-0 scoreline (11-9, 11-1, 11-8, 11-4), while Karim Elhakem and Youssef Abdel-Aziz defeated Christian Deyangha (11-8, 11-5, 11-5, 11-4) and Mootezz Saadaoui (11-4, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7) in straight games.
The host nation will also have a representative in the semi-finals of the category after Tunisia’s Aboubaker Bourass came through his tie against Congo Brazzaville’s Michel Lignandzi in a seven game thriller ( 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 3-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9), and the home player now has his sights set on achieving a top two finish.
“I am so happy making my country proud and making it the last four of the Championships. But I feel bad for my compatriots that were knocked out of the competition. When the match was at 3-3 and I was leading 10-7 on points in the last game, I was just thinking of picking up the last point but I started getting nervous. But I am happy that I won to be the only Tunisian in the semi-final. In the semi-final, I just believe in myself and concentrate with the hope that I can make it to the final,” Aboubaker Bourass.
Further demonstration of Egypt’s success on the sixth day in Tunis came in the Under 21 Women’s Singles tournament, after all four of the semi-finals positions were captured by the country’s contestants.
Aida Rahmo, who is seeded first for the Under 21 Women’s Singles, proved too strong for opponent Akissi Drame with the Cote d’Ivoire player falling to a 4-0 defeat (11-7, 11-3, 11-5, 11-2) while Amira Yousra and Mariam Alhodaby overcame challenges from Meriem Naser (11-6, 11-3, 11-8, 12-10) and Mariem Ben Cheikh (11-8, 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5) respectively.
However, arguably the result of the quarter-finals goes to Marwa Alhodaby following her elimination of the second seed Lynda Loghraibi (14-12, 11-4, 11-6, 11-4) to guarantee that Egypt will lift the title.
“I was ready for her in the quarter-finals having defeated her 3-1 in the team event. I really prepared very well for this Championships and I must also admit that my opponent has not been an easy player to play against. But I knew how to play against her and I was confident going into the match. Now that I will be meeting my sister – Mariam in the semi-final, it’s anybody’s game”, Marwa Alhodaby.
The Tunis audience did witness a positive outing from Tunisian players in the Cadet Girls’ Singles draw, after three of the host country’s athletes progressed through to the last four.
Manel Baklouti led the charge for Tunisia in the last eight as she powered to a straight games success against South Africa’s Kiara Naidoo (11-6, 11-4, 11-1, 11-3), and the no.1 seed will face fellow compatriot Islam Wenaiss in the penultimate stage of the event.
The other semi-final set to take place sees Fadwa Garci go head-to-head with Hana Mahmoud of Egypt.