Kenya’s Phoebe Masika on Tuesday sailed through to the final of the Nairobi Open Wheelchair Tennis event at the Nairobi Club.
Masika beat compatriot Asiya Mohamed Sururu 6-2, 6-4 in the women’s semi-finals and will now face Morocco’s top seed Najwa Awane, who saw off home player Jane Ndenga 7-5, 6-4 in the other women’s last four encounter, in the final on Wednesday.
Ndenga, ranked 186 in the world, went into the match as the overwhelming favourite and proved her mettle, winning in just over an hour to set up a date with Awane.
An elated Masika told Nation Sport her performance was the ideal preparation for the World Cup qualifiers which get underway at the same venue on Thursday.
“I have faced Asiya a number of times and I knew how to prepare for the match. The win gives me confidence going into the final and also the qualifiers where I want to help my country qualify for the World Cup,” Masika said.
Masika got off to a bright start, racing to a 5-0 lead as her opponent struggled to cope with her powerful serve.
Asiya did win the next two games, but Masika underlined her supremacy to win the first set.
The second set was also dominated by Masika, with Asiya guilty of a number of unforced errors and the second seed pressed home the advantage with 14 match points to cruise into the final.
In the other semi, last year’s winner Ndenga was unable to deal with her opponent’s powerful serve and crashed out after 1hr 43 minutes.
In the men’s competition, it will be an all-Moroccan affair as top seed Lhaj Boukartacha, ranked 92nd in the world, and Said Himam face off.
The Moroccan contingent shot down the challenge of a steadily improving Kenya in wheelchair tennis since the sport was introduced in the country seven years ago.
Boukartacha saw off Kenya’s Peter Munvue 6-2, 6-2 as Himam cruised past Rajab Abdallah Athman with the same scoreline in the other semi-final.
The Nairobi Open, which is a precursor for the 2018 World Cup African Qualifying event that starts on Thursday, has brought together players from five African nations with Morocco, Mauritius, Ghana and Tanzania joining hosts Kenya at the event.