28 Jan 2024
Doha - Aspire Academy student-athletes Rawad Alnaser and Ahmed Korani produced eye-catching performances at the recent World Table Tennis Youth Contender event in Doha.
The event was held at the Lusail Sports Arena and featured players from around the world in five different age groups (under-19, under-17, under-15, under-13 and under-11)
Both Rawad Alnaser and Ahmed Korani took part in the under-19 and under-17 events in order to gain valuable experiences and test themselves against top opponents
Rawad Alnaser, who celebrated his 16th birthday earlier in January, reached the quarter-finals of the under-17’s while Ahmed Korani, despite being just 15 years old held his own in the under-19’s.
In the under-17’s Rawad Alnaser won both of his group games to progress to the knockout phase of the event where he won his last-16 match before narrowly losing 3-2 in the quarter-finals to Tunisia’s Wassim Essid, who went on to win the tournament.
With a world ranking of 60 Wassim Essid was also the highest-ranked player in the draw for the under-17s and reached the semi-finals in the under-19 category, in comparison Rawad Alnaser is 210 on the youth rankings.
Ahmed Korani also made the knockout stages in the under-17s, after winning his group matches, but it was his progression to the latter stages of the under-19s that was more impressive.
He lost in the round of 16 to Puerto Rico’s Oscar Birriel who is ranked 38 places above him in the youth rankings.
Yousif Abdalla, who is just 14, gained valuable competitive experience as took part in the under-15 and under-17 categories while 12-year-old Essa El Haddad played in the under-13 and under-15s.
Aspire Academy’s Head Table Tennis Coach Peter Karlsson highlighted the importance of competing in such competitions for the student-athletes.
“It’s extremely beneficial for our young players to experience these kinds of competitions, not only the matches they play but also their training during the event when they can see and learn from others as they strive to improve,” the coach said.
“Our players have shown they can play well and they can challenge the best players.”
“We must work on the consistency and improve on our focus and intensity during training at Aspire.”
“The main message that we repeat to our student-athletes is that ‘Excellence is not a single act it’s a habit”.’
“We must continue to believe in ourselves and at the same time be patient. Our players are still very young, in my experience table tennis players will only reach their peak between the ages of 28-32.”
The event in Doha was also the start of preparations for the GCC Youth Games that will be held in Dubai at the end of April. The event is for under-19 athletes and will be a challenge for the Aspire student-athletes who are still eligible for the younger age groups.