Table Tennis: Nigerian Sensation Matthew Kuti Shines In Cairo

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Nigerian table tennis sensation Matthew Kuti was the biggest winner at the 2022 WTT Youth Contender in Cairo, claiming two titles on the last day of the competition in brilliant fashion.

Although a debutant at the WTT Youth Contender, Kuti who had shown his quality at the 2022 Africa Youth Championships in Tunisia, pulled big upsets as he defeated the top seeds – Saudi Arabia’s Abdulrahman Al Taher and Puerto Rico’s Steven Moreno in the U-11 and U-13 boys’ singles respectively, enroute to claiming the top prizes.

“I am extremely happy and excited to win the titles. Playing with high-level players here in Cairo is a big pleasure for me,” Kuti said.

Nigerian table tennis sensation Matthew Kuti.

“Being the champion for two age categories was not easy, I tried so hard to prove that I am doing my best. I am very proud to represent my country Nigeria,” Kuti added.

“I will keep fighting to improve my skills and claim more titles in the future.” 

Mohamed Azzam

Egypt’s Mohamed Azzam.

Egypt’s Mohamed Azzam also claimed a title on home soil at the 2022 WTT Youth Contender in Cairo, blistering his way through the early stages of the U-19 boys singles without dropping a game.

Much like the form that saw him win his maiden WTT title at the WTT Youth Contender in Agadir, in August, it was obvious that Azzam was the man to beat heading into the tough all-Egyptian final against Marwan Gamal.

Azzam was the brightest of the start, claiming the first game 13-11 to register his intent. Nevertheless, his opponent and friend, Gamal – was not a pushover, the 2022 Africa Youth Championships finalist lived up to the billing but only for a moment in which he won the second game 11-6, thereby ending Azzam’s perfect run of games.

The rest of the match however saw Azzam cruise 11-6, 11-2 in the remaining games, to add another title to his growing WTT title.

“I am very happy to win my second title here in my home country. I prepared very well for the event and I kept focused on every single match,” Azzam said.

“The final was against my friend and national team colleague, so since we know each other very well it was challenging to beat him. I hope to continue working, especially preparing for the upcoming World Youth Championships this December.” 

Gabber Yassin

In a classic case of persistence, a resolute Gabber Yassin of Egypt turned his luck around from fallen short in the U15 boys’ singles to smile home with the top honour in the U17 boys’ singles.

Coming off a successful defence of his Egypt National title in the U15 boys’ singles mid-October, rather than be deterred by his loss in the quarter finals to Indian Naman Bhatnagar in his preferred category, the 15-year-old Yassin went all out in a higher category – the U17 boys’ singles.

Yassin never turned back until he captured the title in a five games battle 3-2 (9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7) against fellow Egyptian Moamen SALAHELDIN in the final.

Earlier successes for Hana Goda and Hend Zaza with respective titles in the U19 and U15 girls’ singles in Cairo, indicate the level of preparedness of African players as the 2022 calendar nears its climax at the upcoming ITTF World Youth Championships set to hold between 4th and 11th December, in Tunisia.

 

Chidi Nwoke/ITTF Africa.

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