Photo: Suzie Dyrbus, ITFRose van der Meer (RSA)
Four different nations will contest Sunday’s men’s and women’s finals at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup Africa Qualification in Nairobi, with Egypt set to face Nigeria in the men’s final, while host nation Kenya won a tense last round-robin tie against Egypt to earn their place in the women’s final against South Africa.
Egypt fend off Gambia to reach men’s final
On the face of it, a 3-0 win for Egypt in their final men’s Group 1 tie against Gambia looks comfortable, but their passage to the men’s final was much closer than the score suggests.
With Gambia having won both of their first two ties and Egypt having won one and lost one, the crucial contest began with Hassan Mohamed giving Egypt a solid foundation after he beat Kujabi Saliou 62 61. However, the second singles rubber proved much tenser before Aly Mohamed eventually held on in a final set tiebreak to beat Sanyang Ousman 64 26 76(5), thereby giving Agypt an unassailable 2-0 lead..
The importance of Aly Mohamed’s victory became more apparent in a thrilling doubles rubber as Gambia edged the opening set on a tiebreak, before Egypt clinched another tiebreak to force a match tiebreak. In the end Mohamed and Mohamed came out on top 67(6) 76(4) 10-4.
Nigeria completed their passage to the final from men’s World Group 2 with their second 3-0 win, this time against Ghana. While Ghana provided the most thrilling victory on Friday’s second day of play at the Nairoi Club, they posed few problems for Kenya, with Jude Uwazie and Yusuf Wasiu dropping just one game apiece in their respective singles rubbers against Emmanuel Boateng and Dzidzienyo Maclean before taking the doubles rubber 60 60.
While there was no crucial doubles decider between Egypt and Gambia, there was in Tanzania’s final Group 1 tie against Kenya, with Tanzania’s Thomas Khiyo and Yohana Mwila defeating Kenya’s Caleb Odiyo and Edwin Muruah 64 63. Victory for Tanzania will see them face Ghana for third place, while Mauritius will play Gambia for fifth, while Kenya complete the qualification event in seventh.
Kenya edge out Egypt to reach women’s final
With Kenya and Egypt having identical records going into the third and last day of round-robin ties, a fascinating contest was anticipated between the two nations, and so it proved as Jane Ndenga won a tiebreak in the first set of the opening singles rubber. Neama Ahmed battled back to take the second set comfortably, but ultimately it was Ahmed that won the important points in the deciding set to give Kenya a winning start 76(5) 16 63.
Egypt came close to forcing a doubles decider after Shaimaa Abdellatif took the opening set of the second singles rubber and then took Kenya’s Rahel Akoth to a second set tiebreak, but Akoth showed great resolve to hold in another tense final set to secure a 57 76(4) 75 victory that ensured Kenya’s place in the final. With the tie won, Ndenga and Akoth faced another tough contest in the dead doubles rubber, but they eventually claimed that, too, beating Abdellatif and Ahmed 64 64.
South Africa are just one tie away in their bid to win the BNP Paribas Africa Qualification for the second year in a row after securing their third 3-0 win of the week when defeating Tanzania.
Thando Hlatshwayo and Mabel Mankgele won each of their singles rubbers against Rehema Selemani and Bihawa Mustafa 60 61 and the two South Africans then combined to also win the doubles rubber 60 61. South Africa go into the final having dropped just 14 games in a total of nine matches.