Tennis

Assar digs deep to scoop fourth ITTF Africa Cup triumph

Reigning champion, Omar Assar, was pushed to the limits as he successfully defended his International Table Tennis Federation title in Lagos.

It was an all-Egyptian affair in the men’s and women’s finals with all four finalists representing the north African nation at Sir Molade Okoya Thomas Indoor Sports Hall in Nigeria’s largest city. 

Assar was hotly-tipped for success as he squared off against second seed Ahmed Saleh in the men’s final , while women’s top seed Dina Meshref took on compatriot Yousra Helmy.

The 28-year-old Assar knocked out home favourite and top seed Quadri Aruna in the semi-finals as he underlined his dominance in the tournament with an 11-6, 11-8, 3-11, 11-7. 11-3 victory.

In a topsy-turvy final he was tested to the maximum but eventually his experience counted as he claimed the men’s title with a 10-12, 11-3, 11-6, 12-14, 11-3, 9-11, 11-3 scoreline.

Saleh had won 11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-2 against Algerian Sami Kherouf to reach the final.

Aruna bounced back from his semi-final loss to win bronze, seeing off Kherouf 11-6, 12-10, 11-5.

Dina Meshref retained the women’s title by easily dispatching of third seed Helmy 11-9, 11-9, 11-1, 11-8.She had earlier knocked out second seed Edem Offiong 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8.

Helmy reached the final with a thrilling 4-3 win against Fadwa Garci of Tunisia as she edged out the 22nd seed 12-10 in the deciding set.

Offiong claimed the bronze medal with an 8-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-8 win against Garci.

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