Inspired performances, as matters commenced in the individual events at the 2019 Ghana Junior and Cadet Open on Wednesday 3rd April, they were very much the order of the day.

In particular, Saudi Arabia’s Salem Alsuwailem, alongside Remi Wei-Chambet of the Netherlands and India’s Arnav Manoj Karnavar emerged the players to stand out from the crowd.

Salem Alsuwailem caused the biggest upset of the day, he accounted for England’s James Smith, the no.2 seed (11-13, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8); next in the pecking order came Remi Wei-Chambet, he overcame Congo Brazzaville’s Rabby Kasota, the no.4 seed (12-10, 11-6, 8-11, 13-11).

Fine performances, it was the same from Arnav Manoj Karnavar; he caused Congo Democratic more problems, he showed no charity when facing Josue Olenga, the no.6 seed, a straight games win was the order of proceedings (11-6, 11-8, 11-1).

Defeat but for James Smith and Josue Olenga it was their only reverse of the day; thus second place and progress to the main draw is very much an option. Alas for Rabby Kasota, there is no such possibility; additionally he was beaten by Nigeria’s Azeez Solanke (11-5, 11-7, 11-4) who like Remi Wei-Chambet concluded the day without a loss against his name. Azeez Solanke and Remi Wei-Chambet now meet to determine first place.

Surprises in the group stage of the junior boys’ singles event, there was one further upset of note; Nigeria’s Emmanuel Augustine beat Congo Democratic’s Noredi Bongo, the no.4 seed (11-3, 11-8, 11-3), eventually ending the day unbeaten. Meanwhile, for Noredi Bongo, his aspirations of progress to the main draw remain alive but only just; in his one further contest of the day, he accounted for India’s Mainak Nistala but it was close, he needed the full five games (4-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-8, 11-1) to ensure victory.

Noteworthy performances and perhaps they overshadowed the efforts of Saudi Arabia’s Khalid Alshsareif, like Congo Democratic’s Christian Mbongia, the no.7 seed; he concluded the day unbeaten, as his fifth-seeded place predicted. Most significantly, he achieved the same outcome in the cadet boys’ singles competition where occupied the top-seeded spot.

In addition, in the cadet boys’ singles event, Congo Democratic’s Exauce Ngefuasssa alongside Arnav Manoj Karnavar and Indian colleague Mainak Nistala enjoyed a day without defeat. A scenario that applied in the mini-cadet boys’ singles event; of those required to raise their racket in anger, it was success for Ghana’s Ibrahim Gago Nuhu alongside the Congo Democratic trio comprising Neredi Bovaji Mutshu, Eli Malola and Marc Tshilenge.

2019 Ghana open

Image: A difficult day for Gloria Dianda but main draw place still open (Photo: courtesy of Ghana Table Tennis Association)

In the Girls division, both India’s Diya Parag Chitale and Nandeshwaree Jalim enjoyed success as the junior girls’ singles event. 

Both completed their first phase matches unbeaten; thus in first place in their respective groups and a passport to the main draw acquired.

However, there were surprises; in particular, the efforts of Nigeria’s Sukuarat Aiyelbegan attracted the attention.

Competing in three events, she ended the day unbeaten; first place in the mini-cadet girls’ singles group was as expected, she was the top seed. In the remaining disciplines, she upset the pecking order.

In the junior girls’ singles event, after accounting for Ghana’s Matilda Fodu (11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 11-13, 11-5), she beat Congo Democratic’s Gloria Dianda, the no.4 seed (11-1, 11-1, 11-1). Meanwhile, in the cadet girls’ singles competition, following success in opposition to India’s Ananya Chande (11-13, 11-9, 10-12, 13-11, 11-9), she took a further liking to a Congo Democratic adversary by overcoming Julie Kayembe (11-1, 11-4, 11-5).

Defeat for Julie Kayembe, it was the same for colleague Lily Dinanga with whom she shared the no.2 seeded spot; likewise she suffered at Nigerian hands. She was beaten by Sadiat Alimat Akeem (11-3, 11-5, 11-1), a young lady who will celebrate her 11th birthday on Thursday 4th April and duly topped her mini-cadet girls’ singles group.

Notably, for both Gloria Dianda and Lily Dinanga, it was their only defeat of the day; thus second place and progress to the main draw is still possible; for Julie Kayembe, progress is a forlorn cause. In her opening contest of the day she was beaten by Ghana’s Joanna Amissah (11-4, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7).

Performances to note as was that of the host nation’s Sandra Arhin, she ended the day unbeaten in the mini-cadet girls’ singles event, a situation that applied also to England’s Ruby Chan; the no.5 seed in the junior girls’ singles competition and the cadet girls’ singles top seed.

Play in the individual events continues on Thursday 4th April.