Eighteen-year-old Hiba Feredj has seen it all since making his debut for Algeria in 2015. She has represented her native country at the World Championships both at junior and senior levels and she also has featured for the North African nation at the African Games and Championships.

However, being her last tournament as a junior player, Hiba Feredj is in Italy for the 2017 ITTF World Junior Championships.

“For this year’s World Junior Championships: I have been training hard at my club in London, working on both physical and mental aspects, with my coach Bhavin Savjani. I feel more prepared and focussed on my game than I was last year and I’m ready to give my best. I don’t have a specific aim for Italy, my strategy is to focus on one game at a time, taking it point by point.”

“To prepare for the World Junior Championships, I have been doing multiple hours of multi-ball training weekly, working on my speed and accuracy. Also, I have been improving and (in the past week) sharpening up my service, service return and shots.”

She attributed the poor outing of African teams at the Word Juniors to poor training.

In my opinion, African team’s unsuccess in the world juniors could have been led by the lower quality of training compared to other continents, as I have mentioned before. Also, a lower standard of equipment and sparring partners in Africa (as opposed to the high-level requirements provided in the other continents) could also contribute to this.

She is however confident that Algeria can make impact this year. “I cannot make a judgement on other teams’ goals or expectations, but I hope that my country, Algeria, come home with a favourable outcome as we have been working hard to prepare for the World Juniors.”

With an eye on wearing the colour of Algeria at the Olympic Games, Hiba Feredj said: “I aim to take part in the Olympics in the future, and continue to represent my country. Apart from building my career in table tennis, I do some coaching and private work with primary school children. Also, I am an assistant to my coach in England, and am a role model for the younger players in my club. I spend most of my time training so going out with my friends is not on my schedule; on free days, I like to rest and recover for the following training session.

“Last year, I was having trouble in travelling and training, while simultaneously supporting my academic studies. This year, I have finished my studies at London Academy sixth form, from which I have gained a level 3 diploma in engineering at A-level with a merit grade. I currently am training full time at London Academy; I am also working at the academy, alongside my coach, Bhavin. As part of my assistant coach position, I conduct training sessions for young students are members at the academy.

She described the feat achieved by Aruna Quadri and Omar Assar as encouraging for players like her. “After the world championships and African championships, not much has changed in Algeria; table tennis is still a recognised sport in my country. Personally, I think that Africa is becoming more popular in table tennis due to the growing successes of Omar Assar and Quadri Aruna, in the ITTF circuit. In terms of standard, the training (compared to Europe and Asia) is not the best, but it does attain to my practical needs. Someday, I hope to be a key influence, like Omar Assar and Quadri Aruna, in promoting the popularity of Africa in table tennis.”