African Junior Championships 2014
Day One- 17 March 2014. Rain causes delay to the start of the African Junior Championships
Nairobi’s intermittent rain forced a delay to the start of the 37th African Junior Championships at the Nairobi Club in Kenya. Play eventually got under way at 1pm and with an additional venue included in the scheduling, only 8 singles matches were not able to be completed.
It was business as usual for the seeded players, with all of them progressing comfortably except for two. The 16 & Under Boys singles event saw the 6th seed, S. Emmanuel (NGR) fall in a tightly contested three set match to Youssef Bali (MAR) 57 63 62. In the 14 & Under Boys event, A. Arzika (NGR) overcame 7th seed M Aziz Helali (TUN) 76(5) 16 62. The pick of the other matches was an unfinished match in the 14 & Under Girls event between Corin De Waal (RSA) and Dalia Sherif (EGY) which is poised at 2-1 to Sherif in the final set.
Day Two - 18 March 2014. The AJC came to life on the second day at the Nairobi Club in Kenya.
Corin De Waal (RSA) and Dalia Sherif (EGY) continued their battle from the day before with the South African saving three match points before securing a 63 46 75 victory. She then powered into the quarter finals with a 62 64 win over S Neng (MRI). De Waal’s doubles partner, Maja Gledic (RSA) also caused an upset with a hotly contested 63 26 64 win over 2nd seed Y Bengebara (MAR). All the other seeds cruised through to the quarter finals with relative ease. Warm-up winner, R Thongoana (RSA) had the toughest route, overcoming a 2-0 deficit in the third set against Kukutla Motlojoa (LES) before eventually winning 60 06 62. Following the rain delayed first day, all the matches apart from one are now up to date.
Day Three- Team Trophy up for Grabs
Following a rain interrupted start to Day three at the Nairobi Club, play finally commenced at 14:00.
Defending champions South Africa, along with Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt all lay claims to lighting the 37th Team Trophy. The Team Trophy combines results from the recent 18&U event held in Casablanca, Morocco in February 2014, with the 14&U and 16&U events held in Nairobi, Kenya.
Egypt are in a good position to lift their first ever AJC Team Trophy. In the U16 boys, Egyptian Y. Hossam continues his fine form with a 75 62 victory over T.Meshuko from Tanzania. He will face T. Chinamo from Zimbabwe in the semi-finals. Amongst the U14 girls, Khaled Hala had an easy win against Aichata Keita without dropping a game. In another 14&U match, an all Moroccan ITF Centre encounter, when Sada Nahiamana from Burundi caused the biggest upset of the day, beating number one seed and warm-up winner Diae El Jardi from Morocco 36 75 76(2).
In the 16&U girl’s event was the upset of number 2 seed El Habiba from Egypt against 7 seed G.Benhadi from Morocco 57 63 63. Thursday will see a day off for the main draw players and semi-final action kicking off on Friday morning.
Day Four- Day off for Main Draw players
The forth day of the African Junior Championships saw most of the main draw players have a day off in the singles event. The rest of the players competed in the play-off matches, which earn them points towards their country’s final position. South Africa have dominated the doubles events so far, with three of their teams reaching the final. Semi-final action will kick off at 09h00 on Friday morning with the 14 & Under girls taking to the courts first.
Day 5- Moroccan Centre youngsters shine through to the finals
Both Soufiane El Mesbahi of Morocco and Burundian Sada Nahimana, residents at the ITF/CAT High Performance Tennis Centre in Casablanca, Morocco continue their fine form securing their spots in the final of the 14&U Boy's and Girl's Singles Event respectively. Sofiane’s will face teammate Ismael Saadi of Morocco in an all Moroccan boys 14&U final. Saadi squandered a 5-1 lead in the third set, and eventually won the match 64 63 76(6).
In the Girls 16&U, Chiraz Bechri of Tunisia beat Ghita Benhadi of Morocco in a straight forward 63 61. She will face the number one seed Al Hussein Lamis of Egypt in the final, who had a tough three set match, eventually winning 16 76(5) 64.
Fourth Seed Egyptian Youssef Hossam overcame number two seed Tadiwa Chinamo of Zimbabwe, to set up a clash with warm up winner Richard Thongoana of South Africa, who had a walk-over due to injured Chisomo Lumeta of Malawi.
ITF Team member Eduardo Morias from Angola partnered with Nyathi Motlojoa from Lesotho caused a huge upset in the U14 Boys Doubles, beating the South African pair Philip Henning and Christian Worst.
Tomorrow will see the conclusion of the African Junior Championships and the Closing Ceremony will take place on Centre Court at 14:00 in one of the most title contested team trophy event. Egypt are still favourites to lift their first ever team trophy.