Kenya won her opening match of the 2019 Davis Cup Africa Group III tourney after seeing off Madagascar 2-1 as the competition served off at the Nairobi Club on Wednesday.
Kevin Cheruiyot and Ismael Changawa thrashed their opponents Lucas Andriamasilalao and Jean- Jacques Rakotohasy of Madagascar in straight sets of 6-4, 6-3 and 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 respectively in their respective singles.
Madagascar saved face in the doubles match as Antso Rakotonramanga and Toky Ranaivo claimed a 4-6, 6-3,7-6(6) result against Kenya's Ibrahim Kibet and Albert Njogu.
The 21-year-old Cheruiyot currently ranked 2087 in the world, quickly took down Andriamsilalao with his strong serves, speed and good eye-hand coordination that proved too much for his 22-year-old opponent from Madagascar.
"I was a bit nervous because we were opening the first match plus I knew my opponent was a tough one, since he is one of the best player from Madagascar, but I'm glad I was able to get a victory from the tough match," said Cheruiyot.
The 23-year-old Ismael Changawa ranked 1934 in the world, started off the first set on a high against 25-year-old Jean- Jacques Rakotohasy, who is ranked 1609 in the world, but quickly dialled down his stamina in the second set where he terribly lost 2-6, but recovered to claim his title again in the third set to finish strongly.
"This was a challenging match for both my opponent and myself, but I couldn't afford to water down what my teammate Cheruiyot had done with a poor performance. I didn’t think I would win but I tried my best to get there, “said Changawa.
Kenya Davis Cup team head coach Rosemary Owino says she has trained the players to always focus on the match at hand so that they keep their focus and not the tournament as a whole which puts unnecessary pressure on them.
“I’m happy with what the boys have done although I was a bit worried about Changawa, but I’m glad he picked himself up in good time to give us a win," said Owino.
Emmanuel Idoko of Nigeria beat his Namibian opponent Codie Schalkwyk 6-4, 6-2, Yousef Rihane of Benin saw off Delmas N’tcha of Algeria 6-4, 7-5, Tunisian Aziz Ouakaa defeated Bruno Nhavene of Mozambique 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
Namibian Jean Erasmus hammered his Nigerian opponent Emmanuel Aijdu 6-2, 6-4, Alexis Klegou of Benin outclassed his Algerian opponent Nazim Makhlouf 6-1, 6-4 and Skander Mansouri of Benin beat his opponent from Mozambique Franco Mata 6-1, 6-2.
In the doubles, Namibians Jean Erasmus and Code Schalkwyk beat their Nigerian opponents Paul Etim and Emmanuel Idoki 6-4, 6-4, Tunisians Aziz Dougaz and Malek Jaziri thrashed their opponents from Mozambique Franco Mata and Bruno Nhavene 6-1, 6-1.
Kenya will face Algeria on Thursday in their second group B match as Benin clash with Madagascar. In group A, Tunisia tackle Nigeria and Mozambique cross paths with Namibia.
The top-two teams from the two pools will advance to promotional playoffs where winner of Pool “A” will meet second-ranked side from Pool “B” and vice versa with the winners securing promotion to Group 2.
The bottom two sides will be demoted to play in Africa Group IV in 2020.
Earlier, the week long tournament, which is expected to end on Saturday was officially opened by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, who said the government is keen on nurturing and developing talent in all the sporting disciplines.