It has been a successful year for local tennis players and a sign that the country’s future in the sport remains bright.
Unlike previous years when there was little to write home about, 2018 will go down in history as the year that tennis produced good shows. Kenya earned a promotion to the Davis Cup Euro/ Africa Zone (Group Two) rekindling the memories of 1992 when the nation made it.
This was after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Benin in Nairobi. It was celebration time after the doubles match when the all-time favourite duo of Ismael Changawa and Ibrahim Kibet won the epic clash against the Benin’s duo of Felix Hounkpevi and Alexis Klegou to earn Kenya the promotion.
After securing a place in the play-offs against Benin, fast rising Sheila Kotecha put Kenya on course with victory in 6-4, 6-4 against Delmas N’tcha in the first rubber. However, Changawa failed to fend off going down 6-7, 6-4 to Benin’s main man Klegou in the second rubber to set the stage for the decisive doubles match. The Kenyans won in 6-3, 3-6 and 6-4 over Klegou and Hounkpevi.
Some talents emerged in 2018 in schools and clubs. Some of them are Brandon Sagala, Mutuku Mwendwa, Cynthia Cheruto and Claire Muthoni but special mention goes to the tier two group that include Albert Njogu, Ryan Randiek, Sneha Kotecha and Angela Okutoyi, who have been phenomenal.
Okutoyi, 14, in particular had a stellar season. She is the youngest player to hold the Africa Junior Championships and Kenya Open titles in the same year. The International Tennis Federation East Africa Tennis Centre protege is considered the new heir apparent locally especially after her good performances at the Britam Kenya Open finale in September. Njogu, 17, has also been sensational and twice being a finalist in ITF events held in Nairobi. His big hitting and fearless attitude has earned him recognition on the local and international tennis scene.
Even so, there were also upsets in the game with seasoned players falling to rookies. Established names tumbled in tournaments that matter either because of complacency or competitiveness. Kenya’s scene is slowly changing to adapt to new order in the game especially after the Changawa siblings lost their status this year in the Kenya Open finals to Ibrahim Kibet and young lass Angela Okutoyi who collectively in her tender age has at least 20 titles to her name.
Kevin Cheruiyot and Kotecha who are some of the senior players currently have been moving around the globe on invitational tournaments like the ITF Futures for rankings as well as prize money.
Tennis Kenya has this year made giant strides through the special visitation of the ITF President David Haggerty early this year to support the project of putting up a modern tennis centre at Kasarani Stadium. The local association had the opportunity to host more high profile ITF events.
Source link : https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/sports/article/2001307768/2018-memorable-local-tennis-year
Publish date : 2018-12-29 21:00:00