14 Jan 2019

Steeped in history, Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, was home to a training camp for African players in the under 15 age group from Friday 4th to Friday 11th January; venue for the whole proceedings was the National Youth City of El Menzah.

Winner of last year’s Star Coach Award Massimo Costantini, the ITTF High Performance Manager, supported by the host nation’s Ramzi B.H. Mabrouk, the ITTF Africa Development Manager, led proceedings.

by Dora Jeler, High Performance & Development Operations Manager

Players and staff were accommodated at a five star hotel in Gammarth, familiar with hosting participants of sporting events.

Notably, in addition to Tunisia’s Marame Zoghlami, Khalil Sta and Farah Mahjoub; Algeria’s Abderrahmane Azzala and Melissa Belache attended alongside Congo Democratic’s Christian Mbongia and South Africa’s Kiara Naidoo.

A training session in progress (Photo: courtesy of Massimo Costantini)


Training commenced with two sessions per day, each three hours, the hosts provided practice partners with multi-ball training being very much in focus in the afternoon session; later in the week, two half day sessions were held in order to allow players to rest.

“Basic skills are something that many don’t consider as important as other skills needed for table tennis but personally I believe basic skills to be the mother of all training. I was able to monitor the quality of the sessions, which I have to say were at a very high level: intensity, rhythm, speed, spin, placement, footwork, backhand, forehand, backhand transitions are the ingredients of a perfect table tennis cocktail”, Massimo Costantini

Improving service technique was high on the agenda (Photo: courtesy of Dora Jeler)


In addition to the training sessions, Massimo shared his experience and immeasurable know-how by organizing discussion groups and education for coaches who accompanied their players. It was a fact appreciated by Algeria’s Mohamed Lamine Houat.

“The camp was very well attended. We feel that our players have progressed during these few days, with the volume and intensity of training but especially thanks to the advice and guidance of one of the best coaches in the world. We were able to take advantage of the two very beneficial and informative technical meetings, during which many things were clarified and facilitated. A big thanks to Max for his generosity and expertise”. Mohamed Lamine Houat

Matters concluded with one day devoted to match play, a somewhat special rule being tested.

“I wanted to limit the duration for each match, so we introduced the rule of the 11th point; the first player capable of scoring 11 points won the game.” Massimo Costantini

Intense activity under the guidance of Massimo Costantini (Photo: courtesy of Dora Jeler)


Therefore, all best of five matches finished within 30 to 35 minutes. Rallies were of an overall good quality; the players showed the desire and the will to win.

“Mission accomplished. I am happy, 2019 has started very well. Despite some absences the camp went really well. There was a good vibe during the everyday sessions and the most important there was huge interest around drills, advice, demonstrations and so on from players and coaches.” Massimo Costantini

Our thanks to the Tunisian Table Tennis Federation for staging this activity and for their efforts prior to and throughout the activity.

Players and coaches in Tunis (Photo: courtesy of Dora Jeler)
High Performance and Development Coaching Massimo Costantini