Kenya to host Africa Junior tourney in March

By elvince joshua
Feb 26, 2013
  • Purvi Rawal,Kenya Lawn Tennis Association Chairlady.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

Kenya will host the 36th edition, All Africa Junior Tennis Championship (AJC) in Nairobi from March 12- 23 at the Nairobi Club.

This will be the first time an East African country is hosting such a tournament in 33 years. This will be a historic tournament for Kenya tennis, which will also mark a first for a kenyan to officiate in the tournament’s history will provide a referee, Patrick Kamehia to officiate at the games.

The main championship will kick off March 18, after a week long warm up tournament. Close to 120 players assisted by over 50 coaches from 27 countries are expected to take part in the championship that will be played on all the nine murram courts at the Nairobi Club and six others at the adjacent Public Service.

“This is the first time we’ll be hosting such a tournament in 33 years and its so special and pride momet for us,” said KLTA charlady, Purvi Rawal on Tuesday.

Kenya will be represented by 14 players in both boys and girls 14 and 16 and under categories. Some of the countries that have confirmed participation are Cameroon, Burundi, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Malawi, Mauritius, Egypt, Benin, Ethiopia and Morocco.

Even though those players at the International Tennis Federation, (ITF) centers in West, South and North Africa entered the event to represent their individual countries they will still come in as a team for the purposes of their continued training.

Coach Otula target quarters

Kenya team coach cum team manager Evelyn Otula will have a huge task of bringing fans and focus back on tennis courts after a series of poor show by the local players in the past tournaments.

Otula is weary of opposition from the South, West and North Africa countries but she expects the team to go past quarter final.

“We have to wait for the draws and see which players are coming from other countries then you can see where you are but I’ve have high expectations our team will play well and possibly reach the quarters or even semis,” said Otula.

The players will have a chance to gauge their strength between 2-3rd and a week later on March 12-17 in build up tournaments.

Kenya will bank on the performances of Stephanie Mbaya, Abigael Tate- Hart , Sheil Kotecha ,Sophia Gulam whom Otula tipped to perform better in the tournament.

Other players expected to carry high the Kenyan flag are, Olivier Kigoth and Joseph Garo in the boys (under 16,), Chizi Muthomi and Membo Waithera in the girls (under 16). Aahil Saleh, Lefteris Ngugi will join Kotecha and Gulam in the boys (under 14) which will also have Tonia Kubai, Faith Nyabera and Mercy Wangui in the girls category.

Kenya’s duo of Ishmael Changawa and his brother Ibrahim Kibet were the last to have won AJC gold in the boys doubles in Egypt last year but they will not be taking part in this tournament having surpassed the junior age group.

CAT general meeting

Six ITF officials are expected to attend the tournament that will also be used by Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) to host a CAT general meeting that will come up with ways to promote tennis in Africa.

The meeting will bring together over 40 various federation chairs, led by CAT chairman, Tarak Cherif assisted by Rawala and former KLTA chair. ITF director of development, Dave Miley will also attend the forum.

Tournament’s director, Francis Mutuku explained that all the players with exception of those from north Africa which was affected by the Arab Springs and South Africa that will be participating as part of the development plan after receiving a direct entry due to their high standards.

Among other thing the meeting will be discussing is a proposal to send more players to the ITF centers in Africa and the development in tennis is east Africa in general. East Africa has only one ITF Center in Burundi.

Kenya will also push for funding to assist in the development of the game at the school levels and development of public facilities. Currently Kenya sole relies on private member clubs like Nairobi Club to host such major tournaments.