by Ian Marshall, Editor
In the men’s singles competition, the most celebrated names receiving a direct entry to the second round, Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna and Egypt’s Ahmed Ali Saleh, the respective top two seeds, set the standard. Quadri Aruna beat Senegal’s Mohamed Gueye (11-2, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4); Ahmed Ali Saleh accounted for Congo Brazzaville’s Michel Lignandzi (11-4, 11-3, 11-8, 11-5).
Wins as anticipated but if there is one intriguing fact, it is that Omar Assar, like Ahmed Ali Saleh from Egypt, is in the same half of the draw as Quadri Aruna; likewise, in the opposite half, an Egypt versus Nigeria semi-final clash is not beyond the bounds of possibility. Should matters advance according to status, Segun Toriola is due to face Ahmed Ali Saleh. In their opening contests both halted Tunisian progress; Segun Toriola accounted for Kerem Ben Yahia (11-1, 11-8, 11-5, 11-1), Omar Assar ended the hopes of Omar Amous (11-5, 11-5, 11-8, 13-11).
Meanwhile, in the women’s singles event, the same scenario prevails. Egypt’s Dina Meshref appears in the same half of the draw as Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike; cousin, Yousra Helmy, in the same section as Offiong Edem.
Two matches were the order of the day as opposed to one for the leading men. Dina Meshref beat South Africa’s Thabisile Mtshoelibe (11-2, 11-3, 11-6, 11-2) and Oumchani Hosenally of Mauritius (11-3, 11-7, 11-9, 11-6); Yousra Helmy overcame Angola’s Ruth Tavares (11-4, 11-2, 11-7, 11-4) and Algeria’s Hiba Feredj (12-10, 11-9, 12-10, 11-2).
Likewise, the Nigerian duo was in commanding form; Offiong Edem accounted for Kenya’s Nasimuyu Lisa (11-2, 11-2, 11-8, 11-5) and Ethiopia’s Marta Gulti (11-8, 11-4, 11-9, 11-5); in a similar vein, Olufunke Oshonaike halted the aspirations of Togo’s Akouto Amegee (11-6, 11-4, 11-4, 11-6) and Meron Mekuria (11-3, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4), like Marta Gulti from Ethiopia.
Success for those with international experience; for the player at the opposite end of the scale, Kenya’s Jenny Compell, it was defeat. The 11 year old from Moi Air Base Primary School was beaten by Tunisia’s Fadwa Garci in the opening round (11-7, 11-4, 11-5, 11-1).
“I love table tennis and my parents have been supporting me since I started. My passion for table tennis is borne out of the way the ball bounces as well as the touch of the bat. Before the match I was a bit nervous but after we started I adjusted and it was fun playing in front of such a big crowd and making my debut at the Games. I am very happy to have been selected by the Kenya Table Tennis Association to be part of the team. It is a big honour to represent your country and I cherish every moment I am spending in Morocco; when I started four years ago, my target is to be the best in the sport and I am sure I can achieve it. I will have to redouble my efforts in training and hope that I can exceed the records set by Dina Meshref in Africa.” Jenny Compell
Play in Rabat concludes on Thursday 29th August.