Kenya picks its dream team for continental test
Posted Tuesday, February 26 2013 at 19:29
- The Kenyan team staged a memorable appearance at last year’s event in Cairo, Egypt where Ishmael Changawa and Ibrahim Kibet won the region’s maiden gold medal in boys’ under -16 contest.
Kenya has named a squad of 14 players for the 36th African Junior Championships planned for March 18 to 23 at the Nairobi Club and Public Service Club respectively.
Precisely 123 players and over 50 coaches drawn from 27 countries are expected for the prestigious junior event that will be held in the region for the first time. The event will be preceded by a build-up tournament from March 12 to 17 at the hosting venues.
The Kenya team, comprising six boys and eight girls, is being coached by former international Evelyn Otula and Rosemary Owino in preparation for the continental championships.
The event initially featured players from 18 and under but is now a reserve Under-16 and Under-14 juniors.
The Kenyan team staged a memorable appearance at last year’s event in Cairo, Egypt where Ishmael Changawa and Ibrahim Kibet won the region’s maiden gold medal in boys’ under -16 contest.
However, Changawa, who is currently taking part in a South African junior tour, and Kibet are not in the team this time around. Kenya team has six boys and eight girls after the country was given two more slots in the girls’ competition.
Some of the players in Kenya team are the fast-rising Stephanie Mbaya (U-16) and Abigail Tate-Harte (U-14), who also made the team for the Cairo event.
Mbaya and Tate-Harte are currently taking part in events in South Africa. Others in the girls’ Under-16 team are Sofiya Gulam, Chizi Mutsumi and Waitherero Memba while girls’ Under-14 has Tonia Kubai, Faith Nyabera and Mercy Wangu.
Olivier Kithongo, Josephat Garo are in boys’ Under-16 while Aahil Saleh, Lefteris Ngugi and Omar Gulam amke the Under-14 team.
“The juniors who are around are working hard in training and we hope for the best. We need more players in the quarters to increase our medal prospects,” said Otula.
Ready to roll
Consequently, the country will have the opportunity of hosting the Confederation of Africa Tennis (CAT) annual general meeting from March 19 to 21 which be attended by more than 40 delegates from various continental federations.
Tournament director Francis Mutuku disclosed that officials from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) will also be attendance.
Launching the tournament on Tuesday at Nairobi Club, Mutuku, who was accompanied by Kenya Lawn Tennis Association (KLTA) chairperson Paurvi Rawal, disclosed that the country is ready to stage the championships.
Players in Kenyan team are among those who went through their respective Zonal qualifying tournaments in Central Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, Northern Africa and East African zones.
Rawal disclosed that they require Sh8 million to host the championships but explained that ITF and CAT will foot part of the bill with other local sponsors offsetting the deficit. “We shall work with resources available in our coffers,” said Rawal.
The CAT meeting that will be held at best Western Premier Hotel, Westlands will be chaired by its chairman, Tarak Cherif of Tunisia and attended by ITF director of development, Dave Miley among others.
Participating countries: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Malawi, Lesotho, Botswana ,Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Mauritius and Madagascar.