Kasarani comes to life as Tennis Games begin

The Indoor Arena of the Moi International Sports Centre,Kasarani will be agog from Thursday, March 1 as the best 32 table tennis stars in Africa converge for the 2018 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup. Kenya is hosting the three-day tournament, which serves as continental qualifiers for the prestigious ITTF World Cup, 29 years after staging the maiden ITTF World Cup. The home fans will be looking up to Sejal Thakkar and Brain Mutua who are ready to rub shoulders with the best in the continent. Among the array of stars in Nairobi are world number 16 and 22 – Egypt’s Omar Assar and Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri as well as seven-time Olympian – Nigeria’s Segun Toriola. Already the 16 male and 16 female have been drawn into four groups of four with the top two players advancing to the knockout stage. The championship will be officially opened by Kenya’s Sports Cabinet Secretary, Rashid Echesa Mohammed and he will be assisted by top officials of the world table tennis ruling body – International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). According to the President of Kenya Table Tennis Association (KTTA), Andrew Mudibo, preparations have been concluded for the commencement of the competition. The KTTA boss urged Kenyans to turn out in large numbers to come and enjoy the thrilling action from various teams lead by the host – Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria among others. Entrance is free and the gates will open at 9:30am Sejal will be the first Kenyan on the floor against Oshonaike Olufunke of Nigeria, Kessaci Katia of Algeria and Christy Brustol of Seychelles in group two. The 42-year-old mother of two will be using the tournament as part of preparations for next month’s Commonwealth Games. Andrew Mudibo, the Chairman of Kenya Table Tennis Association during the partnership launch with French organization Ping Sans Frontiers at Parklands Sports Club in Nairobi, Kenya on January 20, 2016. Ping Sans Frontieres donated playing equipment worth 300,000 meant for less privileged players in schools across the Country. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com “We quite ready, the players are very tough some of them are world ranked but we will give it our best. After our new coach arrived we have been working on everything from serving, receiving, techniques, posture, speed because the game has evolved really fast and speed is of utmost importance. It has come to a point and you have to be very quick on your movements and how you need to coordinate yourself. While 19-year-old Mutua a student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)  has been drawn in group two while he will fight for the only available slot for next year’s World Cup, he will play against top tier players lead by Aruna Quadri of Nigeria,  Idowu Saheed of  Congo and Nyoh Ofon Derek of Cameroon We have prepared well to play against the guys and the exposure will be good for the other games that are coming.  I will be facing some really tough players tomorrow, a good mindset and positive attitude will come in handy for me as we head for the Games. – Brian Mutua

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