Ishmael bows out
End of the road for Kenyan players as Africa Nations Cup reaches semi-finals
Kenya players fell by the wayside as the Africa Nations tennis tournament entered the quarter-final stage yesterday at the Nairobi Club.
Kenya best player Ishmael Changawa lost to Morocco’s Amine Ahouda 6-2, 6-0 in the quarter-finals to bid the event goodbye. Changawa, buoyed by the support of the home crowd, started well, breaking the Moroccan serve to take an early 2-0 lead.
Ahouda fought back to win the third and fourth games hence tied the match at 2-2. From there, the Moroccan dominated the match as he pounded several winners past Changawa to win the fifth game and take a 3-2 lead.
The United States-based player then made several unforced errors in the sixth game to trail 4-2 and from here the Ahouda kept his cool to win the final two games to seal the set.
A fired-up Ahouda came out firing on all cylinders in the second set as he toyed with Changawa to romp into the semifinals. In an interview, Changawa admitted he had lost to a better opponent. “I fought hard in the match but made errors at critical stages of the encounter and he exploited them to his advantage,” added Changawa.
Sheil Kotecha battled hard but lost out to Moez Echaragui of Tunisia 7-6 ( 1 ), 6-1. Kotecha went toeto-toe with the North African in the first set with the play going to serve in the tie break, where the North African held his serve to come out tops.
Kotecha looked to have run out of steam in second set as he struggled to keep up pace with the intensity.
Echaragui broke his serve early and raced to a 4-0 lead before Kotecha managed to get a reprieve in the fifth game to reduce the margin 4-1. Kotecha hopes of a comeback were eventually extinguished in the final two games as the Tunisian sailed to the semis.
It was double delight for Tunisia as top seed Chiraz Bechri eliminated Shufaa Changawa 6-1, 6-3 in the women’s category. Shufaa battled hard especial in the second set but eventually crumbled against her opponent.
The Kenyans team will now turn their attention to the doubles category and the team category, where they are favoured to do well.