26 Nov 2017

Consistently most competitive in African tournaments, more often than not in the quest for honours, when opposing a country one that has been model of excellence throughout the history of the sport, for Tunisia in their opening fixture in the Girls’ Team event at the 2017 ITTF World Junior Championships in Riva del Garda on the morning of Sunday 26th November, it was a lesson in what is possible.

They suffered a three-nil defeat at the hands of Serbia, the highest rated outfit in their first stage group.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Fadwa Garci was beaten by Sabina Surjan (11-8, 11-9, 11-6), Abir Haj Salah lost Izabela Lupulesku (11-4, 11-6, 11-4), Manel Baklouti suffered at the hands of Dragana Vignejevic (11-5, 11-6, 11-4).

Throughout from start to finish the Serbians were in control; the trio comprised players who have proved themselves most worthy competitors on the ITTF World Junior Circuit; moreover they are from a part of the world where neighbouring countries are also most competitive. The geographical difference is a vital factor.

“It is very different here, the atmosphere is totally different; the Serbians played with much more spin and speed. They were far better on the first attack.” Manel Baklouti

“The training the Serbians experience is more intense; everything they do is of a higher standard.” Fadwa Garci

“Playing here is a very different situation for us; it’s good here, everything is of a higher level.” Abir Haj Salah

Quite simply the Tunisia trio received a harsh lesson but did they really believe?

Sitting courtside advising was Mohamed Ben Kahia, the national coach, his headmaster’s report was very much one of could do better.

“They can play much better than they played here; they did not really respond her. They all practise together in Tunis but here I felt they did not focus, there were not fighting.” Mohamed Ben Kahia

There was a quite understandable gap, for the Tunisians the task is not to lay history to rest but to learn from history and return wiser; next is Puerto Rico.


World Junior Championships 2017 World Junior Championships Sabina Surjan Izabela Lupulesku Abir Haj Salah. Msanel Baklouti Fadwa Garc Dragana Vignejevic

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Day 8 - 2017 World Junior Table Tennis Championships