South Africa pipped the host nation to the ITF/CAT 35th African Junior Championships team trophy thanks to Ilze Hattingh’s victory over Sandra Samir (EGY) in the girls' 16 and under final. For the second year running, the Moroccan team came third.
The two teams were on equal points with only the girls' 16 and under final remaining with both Hattingh and Samir knowing that individual victory would also mean team glory. The match was a repeat of the final in the warm up tournament and Samir was hoping to exact her revenge on Hattingh and please the home crowds. However, in a much closer match than their previous encounter, the South African prevailed with a 64 76(2) victory to become girls’ 16 & under African Champion and to clinch the team trophy for South Africa for the 16th time since the championships’ inauguration in 1978.
The boys’ 16 & under event saw top seed and home favourite Omar Gamal El Din (EGY) maintain his fine form from the warm up event, overcoming Guy Orly Iradukunda (BDI) 64 61 to claim the title. Iradukunda, who is based at the ITF/SATA Training Centre in Pretoria, advanced to the finals after turning the tables on Amine Zahoud (MAR) who ended his run at the quarterfinal stage of the warm up event.
Host nation Egypt were strongly represented in the girls' 14 and under event with three players in the semifinals, although against all odds it was the Moroccan player who came out on top. Third seed Zainab El Houari fought hard against tough competition en route to the final, defeating first seed and warm up winner Hana Mortagy 61 63 in the semifinals and then Lamis Alhussein 63 64 in the final.
Top seed in the boys’ 14 & under competition was Calvin Jordaan, who was key in South Africa’s acquisition of the team trophy. With an easy 60 60 victory in the first round over Libyan Osama Al Ramaly, Jordaan’s second round and quarterfinal opponents made life harder for him, dropping the first set in both matches, but eventually winning 26 64 61 against Youssef Lahlou (MAR) and then 26 61 62 against Mohamed Sabry (EGY). The South African then found himself in the final against his semifinal victim from the warm up event, Mohamed Aboulkassem (EGY). The Egyptian wasn’t going to give Jordaan an easy ride and won the first set convincingly 62. But then the warm up champion fought back winning the final two sets 75 63.
In the doubles events the titles were won by countries in all four regions of Africa. In the girls’ 16 & under event, Hattingh paired up with Theresa Van Zyl to defeat Lina Qostal and Rita Atik (MAR) 63 64. One of the two big surprises came as un-seeded Kenyans Ibrahim Kibet and Ismael Changawa Ruwa made fellow East African teams and supporters proud with a straight sets win over Amine Zahoud and Mustapha Belcora (MAR) 75 62 in the boys’ 16 & under event. More expected was the victory by 14 & under girls’ top seeds Egyptians Habiba Lasheen and Hana Mortagy over Moroccans Ghita Ben Hadi and Zainab El Houari 62 62. And last but not least, unseeded Ghanaians Isaac Nortey and Marcel Agbegne delighted West Africans with a tough but well deserved victory over Mohamed Aboulkassem and Sherif Makhlouf (EGY) 76(3) 46 106 in the boys’ 14 & under category.
As a change from previous years, trophies were awarded for the best 14 & under team and the best 16 & under teams, which went to Egypt and South Africa respectively.
At the closing ceremony, Mr Nelson Amanze, CAT Vice President and CAT President of Zone VI, thanked the ITF, the ETF and the staff at Al Solaimaneyah City for their hard work and efforts to make these championships such a success.