Easy day for top seeds at Britam Kenya Open

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Aug 17, 2021
  • Stephanie Mbaya is one of the junior players who will be challenging the seniors in the Britam Kenya Open. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Ibrahim Kibet overcame a rough patch to win 6-4, 6-4 against Frank Tayebwa from Uganda. (SNA: File Photo)

The men's top seeds easily won their opening matches of the Britam Kenya Open championship at Nairobi Club but have a tough challenge of adjusting to the surface.

Edgar Kazembe, the second seed from Lusaka, Zambia and U.S. based Kenyan student Ismail Changawa both won their matches as the main even started after the qualifying rounds at the weekend.

Changawa, the defending men's singles champion expected a smooth sailing in his match against Burundi’s Omar Mohamed who put up a valiant fight . Mohamed's charge came to a cropper as the ever improving Changawa took the match in two straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.

“I feel the touch is there and hope to hit the ball better in my next match,” explained Changawa. He hopes to bag a rare trebble with his siblings if he retains the men's singles title and wins the men's doubles with Mombasa-based Fazal Khan.

A third possible title will be the mixed doubles with his sister Shufaa who is defending the women's singles title.

On the opposite end of the draw, Kazembe lost two games to advance sail to the second round by beating Keean Shah (6-0, 6-2). “He’s only thirteen years old and I think he will go far with his tennis if he keeps at it,” said Kazembe of his much younger opponent, “It was some good experience for him.”

Kazembe had a practice session on the centre court yesterday and felt he hit the ball better today. This will be crucial as the Zambian eases into his tennis as the week wears on. Kazembe has come into this year’s Kenya Open with a point to prove as he lost in the semi final last year which is not good enough by his high standards.

He attributes last years performance to “honeymoon blues” because he married just before coming to the  2014’s event and had other matters on his mind at the time.

Asked about his chances now that his arch nemesis Duncan Mugabe has not traveled this year, “I was actually looking forward to playing him this year because last time we played I lost the match.”

Kazembe: The draw is still very tough

His chances of sweet vengeance against the man from Kampala will have to wait another year. But, Kazembe admits the draw is still very tough and hopes to take it one match at a time.

Another opponent the Zambian relishes a chance to face across the net but will never get the chance is his friend Jean-Claude Gasigwa from Rwanda who sadly passed on last year. “He was a joker…everyone misses him. He was a friend and a brother to many, especially to me.”

The two have traveled together extensively on the tennis circuit and Kazembe reckons that the playing fraternity will have a talk and think of a tribute for his “generous” dearly departed.

The Zambian contingent also has Hector Sando and Kombo Mabo who are also through to the second round. Mabo had a strong showing against Kenya’s Kevin Muhuyi putting him down for the loss of a solitary game in the opening set with smooth sailing through the rest of the match.

Sando however had a tougher outing, struggling to beat John Rogoi in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. A master class performance from Uganda’s David Oringa seeded third this week saw him overcome Ronny Ndinya in two sets of 6-2, 6-3.

Fourth seed Omary Abdalla from Tanzania also came through to win 6-3, 6-3 against Naftali Ngatia. Fifth seed Ibrahim Kibet overcame a rough patch to win 6-4, 6-4 against Frank Tayebwa from Uganda.

In other action an entertaining earlier match saw Sheil Kotecha come through a hard fought 6-4, 6-4 battle with Allan Saha and journeyman Fazal Khan beat Benson Mugo 6-0, 6-1.

Uganda’s Simon Ayella beat Patrick Ochieng, Ryan Randiek continued a stellar performance after qualifying yesterday to beat John Kamau 6-1, 6-3 only to see his older brother Randall fall to Ethiopia’s Abdella Nedim. Petty Andanda powered past Burundi’s Abdoul Ishaka.

James Rogoi KLTA Communications