Photo: ITFKenya's women's team celebrate victory
Nigeria and Kenya earned their respective places in men’s World Group II and the women’s World Group for the 2014 BNP Paribas World Team Cup after two thrilling finals on Sunday at the African Qualification in Nairobi.
The BNP Paribas World Team Cup will be held in Alphen, Netherlands, in May, with a team from Kenya having qualified for the first time after the women’s final at the Nairobi Club went to a deciding doubles rubber, with host nation Kenya defeating Egypt 2-1 to spark great celebrations.
Jane Ndenga gave Kenya the best possible start after a 61 62 win over Shaimaa Abdellatif, but Neama Nouh kept Egypt’s challenge on course, earning a 60 36 63 win against Phoebe Masika in the second singles rubber to set up the crucial doubles contest.
As the four players who played singles went head-to-head again Masika and Ndenga edged a tense finale, defeating Abdellatif and Nouh 61 36 (10-8) to wrap up a historic victory for Kenya.
“With the little resources we have in terms of finances, we were able to count on the players’ abilities for victories,” said Kenya’s coach Lawrence Karanja. “They don’t have all the technique, but we worked on the positives and they deserved the victory after all the hard work with the tactics. We want to make a good show in the Netherlands!”
Nigeria wins men’s qualification for the third time
In the men’s final Ayoub Ettali saved two match points for top seed Morocco in the third and deciding set of the first singles rubber after breaking Nigeria’s Wasiu Yusuf to level the score at 5-5. However, Yusuf broke straight back and went on to secure a 64 36 75 win for second seed Nigeria as the two nations met in the final at the Nairobi Club for the second time in three years.
All three rubbers of this year’s final went to a deciding set, but Alex Adewale clinched Nigeria’s qualification for World Group II after defeating Boukartacha Lhaj 62 16 61 in the second singles.
Morocco gained some compensation in the dead doubles rubber as Fouad Boughnim partnered Lhaj to earn a 16 64 (11-9) win over Adewale and Yusuf, but Nigeria’s overall 2-1 victory resulted in a triumph at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup African Qualification for the third successive year.
“Wheelchair tennis is on the rise in Africa from what I saw,” said Nigeria’s coach Frank Tarmena. “It’s great kudos for the ITF for its development stand. It means a lot and shows the players have the commitment and it’s great that we (Nigeria) keep being the champions.”
Gambia claimed third place after Kujabi Salifu and Ousman Sanyang earned a 3-0 win over Egypt, with Salifu coming from a set down to win the opening singles rubber against Youssef Mahmoud 46 64 61. Salifu and Sanyang also came from behind to win the doubles rubber against Mohamed Aly and Mahmoud 26 62 (10-7).
Tanzania finished fifth after Yohana Mwila and Novatus Emmanuel Temba combined to take all three rubbers against Kenya in straight sets for a 3-0 win.
Three more regional qualification events are still to take place for the Americas, Asia and Europe.