Team Kenya opened its account in the men’s 2017 BNP Paribas Davis Cup held in Cairo, Egypt with three significant wins on Monday evening. Top seed Ismael Changawa and Sheil Kotecha won easy against Botswana opponents in the first rubber before the duo of Ibrahim Kibet and Changawa closed day one with yet another victory.
The team led by Rosemary Owino is in North Africa on the team ranking assignment in Pool B consisting Libya, Algeria, Benin and Botswana in the Group Three Africa Championship. In the first match of the day, Britam Open finalist Sheil Kotecha beat Lefa Sibanda in straight sets of 6-2, 6-2 in 76 minutes just after the searing heat subsided.
The silky Kenyan was in imperious form dropping only four games as he went about tormenting his opponent with terrific backhands. His ability to control proceedings especially in the opening set was instrumental in unsettling Sibanda off his game.
The very mobile Motswana player seemed to be affected by the heat in Cairo and had to reserve his tank as the match wore on. Kotecha forced him into errors particularly on the net service which played a part in raking up points and closing the match early enough much to Sibanda’s annoyance.
On the other end of court, US-based left-hander Ismael Changawa had an equally routine win against Innocent Tidimane 6-0, 6-0 in what would best be described as an effective display.
Changawa only needed 54 minutes to dispatch a lacklustre Tidimane with heavy ground strokes which he is accustomed to. His game was flawless and his punishing energy caused his lowly opponent severe damage.
The opening set was more or less like a practice match as the Kenyan sensation covered miles on court in ensuring that Tidimane had zero answers. His serve was strong and his net presence absolutely threw the younger opponent to the gutter.
Kenya then went ahead to close day one on a high as they made it a clean sweep of 3/3 with another doubles victory in the first of the round robin meets. The rock solid pairing of Ibrahim Kibet and Ismael Changawa took apart the duo of Bayani Moilwa and Aobakwe Lekang from Botswana 6-1, 6-1.
Their dominance was unmatched as they went about business in emphatic fashion. Both sets were defined by their chemistry and communication especially on the specific balls and shots to go for.