Sada Nahimana recorded a landmark first after becoming the first ever Burundian singles champion at the 37th African Junior Championships at the Nairobi Club in Kenya on 22 March.
Nahimana, a resident at the ITF/CAT High Performance Training Centre in Morocco, achieved the feat after recording a convincing 61 62 victory over Hala Khaled of Egypt in the 14&U girls’ singles final.
“It feels awesome to be the champion,” Nahimana said. “I came here with the goal to win the tournament, and it feels amazing. I would like to thank the ITF and in particular the coaches at the Morocco training Centre.”
Ismael Saadi won an all-Moroccan boys 14&U final, overcoming his compatriot Soufiane Elmesbahi 63 57 61.
“I am really happy to be the champion, and it is a good start for my future career,” said Saadi. “The coaching has been good and I have been able to recover well after each match.”
Tunisian Chiraz Bechri, the only player from her country to reach a final at the African Junior Championships, powered to a 62 62 victory in the girls 16&U category final and was delighted with her achievement.
“This is my first time to win, and I’m really happy,” said Bechri. “Mentally I was so [focussed] which is what brought me through.”
The last match of the day on centre court quickly became a thrilling encounter in the boys 16&U event. In a match that could have swung either way right to the end, Youssed Hossam of Egypt eventually overcame South African Richard Thongoana 61 57 75.
After his triumph, Hossam thanked the coaches for creating such a great team spirit throughout the event. Hossam counts his older brother Karim, who is also a former African Junior Champion, as his inspiration.
The African Junior Championships Team Trophy was awarded to the nation who accumulated the highest number of points based on the best six singles results and six best individual doubles results in each team. The top teams were placed as follows:
Team Trophy 1st place: Egypt
Team Trophy 2nd place: South Africa
Team Trophy 3rd place: Morocco
Separate team trophies for 14&U and 16&U events were awarded, with Morocco taking the 14&U Team Trophy and Egypt securing the 16&U Team Trophy.
At the closing ceremony, which took place at 14:30 following the last match, Mrs Martha Tirop, Treasurer of the Kenyan Lawn Tennis Association, officially closed the 37th edition of the African Junior Championships.
Other speakers included Paurvi Rawal, chairwoman of the Kenya Lawn Tennis Association, and Luca Santilli, head of Junior and Seniors tennis at the ITF. All the players were congratulated for their high standard of tennis and thanked the organising committee, Confederation African de Tennis, and the International Tennis Federation for another successful event.