by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Four groups, players finishing in first and second positions advancing to the main draw, the no.15 seed, after experiencing defeat at the hands of Togo’s Kokou Dodji Fanny, the no.8 seed, in four games (11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7), he overcame one of the most experienced player on view.
The Eastern African champion, he beat the no.10 seed, South Africa’s 40 year old Shane Overmeyer in a full distance contest (11-8, 8-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-8).
After taking the first game, Mutua was stunned by the veteran Overmeyer who captured the next two games before recovering to force a decider; from the start of the fifth game the Kenyan played with a great deal of caution, avoiding unforced errors.
“Despite winning the first game, I never believed I could win against Overmeyer. I knew he is one of the continent’s most experienced players having watched him played in 2018 in Nairobi.
In the third game, I was leading but he caught up with me to win the game; when I was able to win the fourth game for the match to be at 2-2, I started having a positive mind and believed that I could win. I reduced my errors which had caused my loss to the Togolese. Also, I varied my service and this really helped me a lot in the tie.
One thing I have learnt from playing against some of the top players is that a good player should not be bothered by the pedigree of his opponent; just focus on the game because in table tennis, anything can happen on table.
Playing against Overmeyer, I forgot about who he is, I just played my game. I am so happy what happened to me two years ago has been averted here in Tunis and I hope I continue to improve from here; this vital win will surely spur me on when the Olympic qualifying tournament starts later this week. I am hopeful that it will serve as a good preparation for the qualifiers.” Brian Mutua
In his concluding match, Brian Mutua was beaten by Ahmed Ali Saleh (11-8, 11-5, 11-5); thus he finished in third place in his group; he now plays from positions 9–16.