By Sammy Heywood Okine
Ghana’s Commonwealth Games medal hopeful, Derek Abrefa battled with high altitude to overcame a resilient Lingeveldt Kurt of South Africa by 3-1 (11-2, 13-11, 9-11, 11-7) on the opening day at the Indoor Arena of the Moi International Stadium in Kasarani, Kenya.
Lingeveldt, who is ranked number eight in the tournament, recovered from two sets down to nip an 11-9 win in the third game. Buoyed by that win, Lingeveldt took a commanding 5-1 lead in the fourth game, with Abrefa struggling to deal with his opponent’s forehand loops and backhand rallies.
As defeat stared at him in the face, Abrefa had to dig deep into his wealth of experience to draw level at 6-6, leaving his opponent bemused at the sudden turn of events. There was no turning back for Abrefa as he cruised to a comfortable 3-1 victory.
Abrefa played against Sultan Godfrey of Seychelles in a make or break affair to qualify into the next stage of the competition. There was success on his second visit to the table; he beat Godrey Sultan of the Seychelles in three straight games (11-6, 12-10, 11-5).
He was able to make it to the Best 8 as the competition of Africa’s highest ranked players in the world reached the hot stage.
Top seed Omar Assar of Egypt, who is ranked 16th in the world defeated the Ghanaian.
“The match was tough as I struggled to acclimatise to the weather. I have the confidence to march on. My target is to qualify to the next round and cause an upset against” Abrefa said.
Derek Abrefa met his goal of reaching the quarter-finals, and facing Omar Assar, one of the best players on the continent,
In the female encounter, Ghana’s top seed, Celia Baah-Danso, lost 0-3 to Sarah Hanffou of Cameroun. She did her best to place third in her group and at the end of the competition placed 13th on the continent.
Egypt’s Omar Assar and Dina Meshref won the respective Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles titles at the 2018 ITTF-Africa Top 16 Cup, which concluded in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday 3rd March.
Thus Omar Assar is bound for the Liebherr 2018 Men’s World Cup to be staged in later this year in Paris; for Dina Meshref, it is a journey to the Chinese city of Chengdu in late September for the Women’s World Cup.
In Alexandria in 1962, Emmanuel Quaye won Men’s Singles gold at the first ever African Championships, six years later in Lagos, he regained the crown; likewise in the Nigerian capital city another Ghanaian, Ethel Jacks donned the Women’s Singles crown and thus retained her title. She had won on home soil in Accra in 1964.