by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Listed at no.18 on the current men’s world rankings, the name of Quadri Aruna, Africa’s highest rated player, appears on the entry list as does that of Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw of Senegal, arguably the most improved in the past year.
A high standard of play, it is the same for the women, a fact Dina Meshref, the winner of the most recent three editions, acknowledged.
“I think it is now more challenging for any player to win the title; for me I just need to focus on my game in the tournament with the hope of achieving success. I am going to play my game and hope that I can win.” Dina Meshref
Similarly, Diaw who is making his debut in the competition, admitted that winning tournament has become tougher in Africa now.
“I think playing in Africa has really improved my game and I hope I can do well in the tournament. I am really looking forward to an exciting time in Tunisia, especially with the warm welcome I got from the hosts since I arrived.” Ibrahima Diaw
Notably one of the most celebrated African names is Egypt’s 40 year old Ahmed Ali Saleh, he is the no.2 seed in the men’s singles event behind Quadri Aruna.
“I think when I won the title in the 1990s, it was a bit easy but today it is much harder because of the kind of players we have in Africa now. They are all among the best in the world and I must admit that anybody that wins here will know that he worked hard for it.” Ahmed Ali Saleh
The Egyptian faces a daunting task in Tunis as he is drawn in group two alongside Togo’s Kokou Dodji Fanny, South Africa’s Shane Overmeyer and Kenya’s Brian Mutua.
“I am really in a tough group in this competition but I will surely give it my best and hope that I can qualify from the group and make it to the next stage of the championship. It is a rare privilege for me to represent Kenya in this tournament.” Brian Mutua