by Simon Daish, Interviews conducted by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa, Media Officer
Mohamed Azzam of Egypt continued to show his quality on the table after the 13-year-old Egyptian representative maintained his 100% winning record at the 2017 ITTF African Junior and Cadet Championships to lift the Cadet Boys’ Singles trophy.
Displaying a wonderful performance Mohamed Azzam thundered to a stunning 4-0 success against the host nation’s Youssef Ben Attia in the final to take the plaudits.
However, the Cadet Boys’ Singles champion admitted that he felt the pressure in the semi-finals and stated that his most difficult encounter came against Congo Brazzaville’s Regis Kiassi.
“I am so happy that I won this competition because I really practised hard for this in Egypt. It showed that if you work hard, the reward will become obvious and that is what I found out from my performance at the Championships. I must admit that the semi-finals match was my toughest match because I worked very hard for every point because my opponent was very strong and experienced. But all in all I must say that working hard pays a lot and I will not relent as I will continue to work hard when I get back to Egypt”, Mohamed Azzam.
Egypt may have picked up the most silverware on Day Seven in Tunis with the Cadet Boys’ Singles, Junior Boys’ Singles, Junior Girls’ Singles, Junior Boys’ Doubles and Junior Girls’ Doubles titles going to the country but there was to be no clean sweep of the prizes as the hosts Tunisia also saw two of its competitors reach the top step of the podium.
One of the victorious Tunisians was Kerem Ben Yahia who not only eliminated the top seed Aly Ghallab in the semi-finals but also overcame Naim Karali of Algeria by a 4-1 scoreline in the final to claim the Under 21 Men’s Singles title, while Fadwa Garci emerged victorious in the Cadet Girls’ Singles event.
“I never thought I could win the title from the beginning of the Championships but after beating Youssef Abdel-Aziz in the team event, I started gaining confidence. In the singles I was able to beat two Egyptians again and this really boosted my confidence in the final. I think the support from the crowd was very helpful and it inspired me throughout all my matches. The coaching crew and the Tunisian Table Tennis Federation must be commended for their enormous support”, Kerem Ben Yahia.