Al-Ahram Weekly Online   5 - 11 April 2012
Issue No. 1092
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Best boys

Egypt won the boys title at the ITF/CAT18 and under African Junior Tennis Championship, reports Ghada Abdel-Kader

Click to view caption
Zaazou, Hossam, Hattingh and Le Roux

Egypt won the boys singles and doubles titles at the 35th edition of the ITF/ CAT (International Tennis Federation and Confederation African Tennis) 18 and under closed African Junior Tennis Championship held in Potchefstroom, North West Province in South Africa from 19-24 March.

The championship is one of the most prestigious competitions in Africa. It was divided into three age groups: the 14 and under, 16 and under and 18 and under categories. Unlike previous years, the 18 & under age category has become a separate event from other categories.

The 14, 16 and under age categories will be played at the Golf Al-Solaimaneyah Club in Cairo from 10- 14 April.

Countries participating were Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria, Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Benin, Burundi, Morocco, Mauritius, Malawi, Mali, Madagascar, Lesotho, Ghana and Congo. The event featured 44 boys and 31 girls from 19 countries across Africa.

Egypt's top-seeded No 1 Karim Hossam won a gold medal in the boy's single event after defeating South Africa top-seeded No 1 Wayne Montgomery 6-3, 6-2. Montgomery was the boys 18 & under African junior champion in 2011. "My main target this year was to win the African Junior Championship. I had a chance to take revenge because Montgomery took the title from me last year," Hossam said.

On his preparation for the championship, Hossam played in the Australian Open and the Future Tennis tournament in Texas.

Egypt's Hossam and Mahmoud Zaazou also won the doubles title. Hossam and Zaazou teamed up to defeat South Africa's Montgomery and Matthew Rossouw 6-7(2), 5-7 in the final.

In the first round of the boys' singles, Hossam had a bye, an automatic advancement of a player to the next round of a tournament without facing an opponent. It is always given to the top-seeded players in a tournament.

In the second round, Hossam defeated Kenyan Ismael Changawa 6-1, 6-1. In the third round, he beat the Malagasy Jean-Jacques Rakotohasy 6-2, 6-1. In the quarter- final, Hossam routed Zimbabwean Courtney John 6-2, 6-1. In the semi-final, Hossam beat Tunisian Skander Mansouri 6-2, 7-6 (4).

"My match with Mansouri was very tiring. It was like a duel between two skillful opponents," added Hossam.

In the boys' doubles, in the first round, Egypt's Hossam and Mahmoud Zaazou enjoyed byes. In the second round, Hossam and Zaazou beat Zimbabwe's Courtney John Lock and Malawi's Chisomo Lumeta 7-6 (3), 6-3. In the quarterfinal, the Egyptians defeated Tunisians Mehdi Abid and Mansouri 3-6, 6-2, 11-9. In the semi-final, the pair beat Namibian Tuki Jacobs Beninese Tunde Segodo 4-6, 6-3, 12-10. Hossam and Zaazou teamed up to defeat South Africa's Montgomery and Matthew Rossouw 6-7(2), 5-7 in the final.

Coach of the Egyptian team Nael Zaki told Al-Ahram Weekly, "It was a big achievement for Egypt to win the doubles because South Africa has very good players. It was very difficult because even though Zaazou had an amazing match in the quarter final he was treated unjustly by the umpire. He had match point but the referee didn't see it so he didn't count it."

In the semi-final, Hossam and Zaazou beat Namibian Tuki Jacobs and Beninese Tunde Segodo 4-6, 6-3, 12-10.

This is the seventh year for Hossam to participate in the African Junior Championship. He won U-14 title in 2008 and U-16 title in 2009 and 2010.

Hossam is currently 11th in the ITF junior boys ranking after winning the African Junior Championship.

Hossam said he will continue his training with his coach Karim Zaher in Gezira Sporting Club. His agenda in the next month is full, playing in the 37th City of Florence (Grade two) championship in Italy from 4-9 April; Tennis Open Junior de Cap d'Ail (G2) in France from 9-14 April; and the 29th International Tournament of Salsomaggiore (G2) also in Italy from 30 April to 6 May.

In girls singles, South Africa's Ilze Hattingh won a gold medal after beating South Africa's Madrie Le Roux 6-1, 6-1. Le Roux defeated Egypt's Mai Kamash 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 in the semi final.

Hattingh and Le Roux won the girls doubles title after defeating South Africa's Lynn Kiro and Theresa Alison 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Egypt's Kamash and Sandra Samir lost their semi final match against Hattingh and her teammate Le Roux 6-2, 6-2.

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