Deadly tennis duo of Ismael Changawa and Ibrahim Yego picked up Kenya’s sole medal in the ongoing Africa Nations Cup staged at Nairobi Club .
They lost 6-4, 4-6, 5-10 to Tunisia’s Moez Echargui and Mohammed Bellalouna in the men’s doubles final to finish second.
Changawa and Yego had a fairy tale run after contenders top seed Amine Ahouda and third seed Yassine Idmbarek (Morocco) were surprisingly eliminated in the quarter final stage.
The cohesion on the court saw the Kenyan pair make easy pickings off surprise package Abdoul Shakur and Fabrice Tuyishime in the semi final with a comfortable 6-1-6-1 result.
In the final however, after sealing the first second 6-4, the tables turned in the second after unforced errors by Yego in particular made them conceded early points to trail 1-3 and 4-3 respectively.
The crisp service delivered by Echargui won the set for the North African side. The tale was similar in the decisive set as the battling Kenyans could not secure the win.
Changawa: Difficult campaign
Changawa has picked some positives despite the results. “We have a young team that is gaining valuable experience. It has been a difficult campaign for Kenya but we will go back to the drawing board as we try to improve on our performance,” the 20 year old Changawa said.
Yego said that the chemistry between him and Changawa was decisive in making it into the final and they hope to improve in future competitions.
“It has not been easy playing with highly skilful players. We communicated well throughout and that is what led us to reach this far. It is our wish to see the team to improve as we move forward if we are to have players at the top of the continental stage,” he concluded.
North African teams proved to be a force not to reckon with in the individual events. In the men’s singles final, Ahouda stole the show after beating Echargui 6-2, 6-2 in straight sets.
The women’s singles final saw Tunisia’s Chiraz Bechri emerge top after edging second seeded Morocco’s Rita Atik 6-4, 6-2.
The women’s doubles final saw Atik paired with Diae El Jardi redeem themselves after defeating Tunisia’s Berchi and Ferdaous Bahri. The competition concludes on Sunday.
Quarter final: Amine Ahouda 2 Ismael Changawa 0 (6-2, 6-0), Denis Indondo 2 Mehdi Jadi 0 (6-4, 6-2), Yassine Idmbarek 2 Melkamu Sereche 0 (6-1, 6-2), Moez Echargui 2 Sheil Kotecha 0 (7-6 (1), 6-1); Semi final: Amine Ahouda 2 Denis Indondo (6-3, 6-3), Moez Echargui 2 Yassine Idmbarek (6-2, 6-1); Playoff: Yassine Idmbarek 2 Denis Indondo 1 (6-1, 3-6, 10-4); Final: Amine Ahouda 2 Moez Echargui 0 (6-2, 6-2).
Quarter final: Chiraz Bechri 2 Shufaa Changawa 0 (6-1, 6-3), Diae El Jardi 2 Nancy Onya 1 (6-3, 4-6, 6-0), Celestine Avomo 2 Lilya Madab 1 (6-1, 3-6, 6-4), Rita Atik 2 Mouna Bouzgarrou (6-3, 6-3); Semi final: Chiraz Bechri 2 Diae El Jardi 0 (6-3, 7-6 (2) ), Rita Atik 2 Celestine Avomo 0 (6-4, 6-3); Playoff: Diae El Jardi 2 Celestine Avomo 0 (6-2, 6-4); Final: Chiraz Bechri 2 Rita Atik 0 (6-4, 6-2).
1. Moez Echargui and Mohammed Bellalouna (Tunisia), 2. Ismael Changawa and Ibrahim Yego (Kenya), 3. Mehdi Jadi and Mohammed Aziz.
1. Rita Atik and Diae El Jardi (Morocco), 2. Chiraz Bechri and Ferdaous Bahri (Tunisia), 3. Mouna Bouzgarrou (Tunisia) and Lilya Hadab (Morocco).