by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Some eight months ago at the Sun International 2017 World Junior Championships in the South African city of Cape Town, in the first stage of the Boys’ Team event; Youssef Abdel-Aziz had beaten Nigeria’s Rilwan Akanbi in four games (13-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-2).
In Lagos it was a somewhat different story, Youssef Abdel-Aziz emerged successful but by the very narrowest of five game margins (13-15, 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9).
Tense moments for the no.4 seed; for the leading three names, there were no such moments of drama.
Romania’s Rares Sipos, the top seed, beat Egypt’s Mahmoud Helmy in three straight games (11-7, 11-8, 11-8); in a similar fashion, Italy’s Carlo Rossi, the no.2 seed, accounted for Nigeria’s Nurudeen Hassan (12-10, 11-7, 11-3). Not to be outdone, Portugal’s José Pedro Francisco recovered from an opening game deficit to beat Azeez Solanke, also from Nigeria (8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5).
At the semi-final stage Rares Sipos meets Youssef Abdel-Aziz, Carlo Rossi confronts José Pedro Francisco.
Emphatic performances; in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event, the outcomes were even more emphatic. Three games to nil results were the results on each occasion.
Hungary’s Bernadette Balint, the top seed, beat Nigeria’s Nimota Aregbesola (11-4, 11-3, 11-6); similarly, Italy’s Giorgia Piccolin doused the hopes of the host nation. The no.2 seed, she accounted for Abosede Odusanya (11-3, 11-8, 11-2).
Likewise there was success for Egypt’s Amira Yousry, the no.3 seed, whilst Esther Oribamise, the no.4 seed, kept Nigerian hopes alive.
Both repeated earlier successes against Nigerian opponents. Amira Yousry, who had beaten Alimot Ayinla at the 2015 Egypt Junior and Cadet Open, emerged successful once again (11-9, 11-5, 11-2). Similarly, Esther Oribamise defeated Agnes Onoja (11-5, 12-10, 11-6); at the semi-final stage of the Cadet Girls’ Singles event at the 2014 African Junior and Cadet Championships, Esther Oribamise had emerged the winner in a similar manner.
Esther Oribamise now meets Giorgia Piccolin in the penultimate round; Barnadet Balint opposes Amira Yousry.
The Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s Singles semi-finals will be played later in the day.