Tennis Association unveils Kenyan team for Commonwealth

Sejal Thakkar won Kenya two bronze medals in the Team Event and Ladies Doubles at the All Africa Games held in 2015 in Congo.
In Summary
The Kenya Table Tennis Association has unveiled a two-man team which will fly the country’s flag in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games scheduled for April 4-15 in Gold Coast, Australia.
The last time Kenya hosted such a big event was in 1989, when the country hosted the World Cup which was the first major tournament in Africa.
At the same time, Mudibo has called on the Government and cooperates to jump in and help the association raise the Sh 20 million needed to host the three-day competition.

The Kenya Table Tennis Association has unveiled a two-man team which will fly the country’s flag in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games scheduled for April 4-15 in Gold Coast, Australia.

KTTA chairman Andrew Mudibo said on Tuesday that Bryan Mutua, 19, and Sejal Thakkar, 42, will carry the country’s hopes for medals at the quadrennial Games but will first compete at the ITTF Africa Continental Cup World Cup Qualifier slated for the Kasarani Gymnasium in Nairobi from March 1-3.

Mutua, a product of KTTA’s “Tucheze Tebo” (Swahili for Let’s play TT) is one of the fastest rising Kenyan youngsters and a prodigy of the evergreen Mwala High School production line.

The 42-year-old Thakkar is expected to bring in the much-needed experience after winning two bronze medals in the team events and ladies doubles at ITTF Africa Eastern Region Championships held in Mauritius last year.

“It’s the passion of the game that drives and brings me back to the TT table, time and again. Playing against the top 16, some of who we interacted with prior to Khartoum 2016 Olympic qualifiers which coincided with the Continental Cup will be all good and a moment to savour for long. Most of the players are ranked globally, so playing against them will improve our ranking and prepare us well for the Commonwealth Games. The essence is to give it our very best,” said Thakkar.

The duo’s main target at the continental championship is to ensure that Kenya qualifies for the February team World Cup in England. Mudibo confirmed that top 16 slots are filling up as fast with a few slots remaining.

The last time Kenya hosted such a big event was in 1989, when the country hosted the World Cup which was the first major tournament in Africa.

“The top 16 players will be divided into four groups of four pools. Out of that, we will get the best players proceeding to the knock out stage to get the winner of the event. But by the time the event finishes, each player will play for a position from number 1 to 16. Only one player will qualify for the World Cup.

“We have a secretariat that has been operational for the last 16 months doing what needs to be done. On top of that the ITTF has donated equipment…which will be useful when we host our local events because we do not have a floor. There will also be women in sports conference to ensure that the women get an equal opportunity in the sport like their male counterparts,” added Mudibo

At the same time, Mudibo has called on the Government and cooperates to jump in and help the association raise the Sh 20 million needed to host the three-day competition.

In the men’s category, Sami Kherouf of Algeria will represent the northern region. He will be joined by Brian Chan Yook Fo of Mauritius. Yook Fo won the men’s category at the recent Easter Championships in Mauritius.

Others are Egyptian duo Assar Omar and Saleh Ahmed as well as the legendary Toriola Segun of Nigeria. Also in the mix are Mamia Thameur of Tunisia, Congolese Idowu Saheed, Oba Oba Chizito of Ivory Coast, Soufiane Harb of Morocco, South African duo of Lingeveldt Kurt and Lingeveldt Keegan.

In the ladies category, 16-year-old Prathma Jalim of Mauritius and Saidani Safa of Tunisia will represent the Eastern and Northern regions respectively. The star-studded ladies list also comprises of Oshonaike Olufunke of Nigeria, Abdel-Aziz Farah of Egypt, Nigerian Olympian Edem Offiong, and Algerian duo of Loghraibi Lynda as well as Laid Islem. Others are Han Xing of Congo, Ivory Coast’s Sarah Hanffou of Ping Sans Frontieres, Tshepiso Rebatenne of Cameroon and Okockou Ira of Congo. However, Central, Western and Southern regions are yet to submit their qualifiers with less than 40 days remaining before championships kick off.