NAIROBI: The opening day of the BNP Paribas World Team Cup African Qualification Event saw host nation Kenya’s women’s team defeat defending champion Morocco in the deciding doubles.
Kenya women’s team won the event last in 2014 and took an early lead with Phoebe Masika defeating Nama Habboubi 62 60. Najwa Awane, who won the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour Nairobi Open immediately prior to the qualification event, came through against Kenya’s Jane Ndenga 76(4) 61 to level the tie.
The established partnership of Masika and Ndenga were too consistent from the Moroccans and a few key unforced errors on key points from the Moroccan pair gave Kenya the doubles victory 63 61.
The other women’s contest also saw a tight encounter between Egypt and Tanzania, with the tie once more going down to the deciding doubles.
It was the Egyptians that took the first set 6-3, before Tanzania levelled at one set a piece. Neither team was able to dominate in the match tiebreak, with the score remaining even throughout. At 8-8 the Tanzanian duo of Lucy Shirima and Rehema Selemani were able to hold their nerve and string two consecutive points together to take the victory 36 64 (10-8). Both Tanzania and Kenya will rest on Friday before playing their final pool match on Saturday.
The host nation’s good form also continued in the men’s event, with Kenya defeating Ghana 3-0 after comfortable singles victories Collins Omondi and Peter Munuve, while Munuve partnered Rajab Athman to dominate the doubles.
Nigeria, which returns to the competition after not competing in 2016, also made a strong start against Gambia, also winning 3-0. Just one set in the three rubbers went to a tiebreak as Nigeria’s Jelli Ishola defeated Salifu Kujabi 61 76(3). Kazeem Akanbi partnered Ishola to take the doubles 63 63.
Tanzania’s and Egypt men’s teams replicated the tight match seen in the women’s event.
Egypt’s Hassan Mohamed Aly defeated Juma Hamisi before Tanzania’s Novatus Temba defeated Mohamed Abdelhafez to put the East Africans back in contention.
Temba dropped the first two games of his singles match before winning 12 games in a row, with the Tanzanian full of confidence following his win in the men’s singles at the Nairobi Open earlier this week.
Temba, 21, who is a tuk-tuk driver back in Tanzania, when he is not playing tennis, is one of the youngest players taking part in the men’s competition.
Juma and Temba went on to seal a 2-1 victory for Tanzania after winning the deciding doubles rubber 63 62.