Kenya’s Davis Cup team leaves the country early Sunday brimming with confidence ahead of the Africa Group III tournament slated for August 11-14 at the Smash Tennis Academy in Cairo, Egypt.
At the clay outdoor competition, Kenya will be represented by tennis stars Ismael Changawa, Kevin Cheruiyot, Albert Njogu and Ibrahim Kibet. Derrick Ominde is a reserve player.
Coach Francis Rogoi’s side will know the draw on August 10. Countries set to vie for two tickets on offer for promotion to 2022 World Group II Playoffs are Algeria, Benin, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Rwanda. Madagascar withdrew.
“We have had continuous training for over three weeks and we are ready. Our aim is to fight to reach Group I one day. I’m expecting a tough tournament in Egypt, but we must win. I hate losing,” said Changawa who is also a musician.
He added: “We have not played for a very long time due to the coronavirus restrictions. We have been giving 110 per cent in training. The year 2021 we need trophies. We must come back home with the trophy.”
Njogu said that despite the lack of tournaments, “I’m ready”. “I have not played tennis for one whole year but from the training we have had, I feel I’m ready for the battle.”
Ominde,18, was happy to have attended the scheduled training. “I’m happy that I’m getting back to the game after not playing for a long time,” noted Ominde who one month ago exited in the second round of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Nairobi Open after losing in straight sets to German Bain Moreno De Vega.
Cheruiyot admitted it has been tough training during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially because most of the players in the team are from Mombasa County and have to rent houses in Nairobi to be able to train at Nairobi Club.
Others who are in the travelling party with the team include Tennis Kenya president James Kenani (Head of Delegation), Rose Wanjala (team manager), Philomena Minoo (physiotherapist and team doctor) and government officials Charles Thumbi and Cynthia Adhiambo. The draw takes place on Tuesday, with matches serving off the following day.
The seven countries will be drawn into two groups. One group will have four teams and the other group three teams.
Nations finishing in the top two of each group will compete in playoff for promotion, with the winner of Group “A” facing the runner-up of Group “B”, and the winner of Group “B” meeting the runner-up of Group “A”.