by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
First place in the initial stage group achieved in style, Sami Kherouf, who had finished in a highly creditable fifth place in the ITTF African Cup, notably stretching Egypt’s Mohamed El-Beiali the full seven games distance at the quarter-final stage, was in no mood for charity.
At the semi-final stage he accounted for Tunisia’s Thameur Mamia in four games (11-9, 11-1, 11-6, 3-11, 11-9), before in the final recording the same margin of victory in opposition to colleague Nai, Karali (11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9). In the counterpart semi-final, Naim Karali had accounted for Morocco’s Saad Zine El Abdine (11-8, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6).
An impressive performance from Sami Kherouf, it was the same from Safa Saidani in a competition where there was an air of revenge.
In the first round at the ITTF African Cup, she had been beaten by Algeria’s Katia Kessaci; in the group phase of proceedings at the North African Championships she turned the tables. She beat Katia Kessaci in three straight (11-6, 11-7, 11-9), remaining unbeaten to top the group.
Undoubtedly a confidence boosting win; she overcame the host nation’s Ines Outolla in the penultimate round (11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-2), before securing the title at the expense of Algeria’s Islem Laid (5-11, 2-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8). Notably, Islem Laid was a player in form; in the counterpart semi-final, she had beaten Katia Kessaci in straight games (11-6, 11-5, 11-3, 11-8), second position in the group having secured the Algerian a last four place.
The tournament was a qualification event for the 2018 ITTF Africa Cup to be held in Nairobi next March; the results will be included in the ITTF-Africa Ranking system.
North African Championships: Results – Men’s Singles Event (Tuesday 4th – Wednesday 5th July)
North African Championships: Results – Women’s Singles Event (Tuesday 4th – Wednesday 5th July)