Barry Silah @obel_barry
Three Kenyan players qualified for the prestigious semi-finals of the Karen Tennis Championships at the Karen Country Club in Nairobi yesterday.
Ismael Changawa (left) led Team Kenya’s charge at the inaugural event with relatively easy wins against his opponent as he sought to clinch the title come Sunday. Ismael beat Simon Ayella of Uganda 6-2,6-1 without sweat on his serve.
On the ladies front, Sneha Kotecha trounced Burundian Hozianne Kitambala 6-3,6-0 in a show of great character by the 16-year-old Kenyan lass. Her steady shots and compact game earned her the sweet victory.
America-based Ismael was on-song as he countered his challenger’s moves with ruthless efficiency particularly on backhand returns. The left handed second seed of the tournament who has had a mixed season stepped on the gas straight from the word go pinning Ayella with spontaneity that frustrated him.
The opening set was a good marker with the Kenyan dropping only two unexpected games as he literally controlled the court. His discipline on defence and his clever switch to attack often caught his opponent flat-footed as he broke serve frequently from the panicky Ugandan ace.
Both players had stamina and good movement but Ismael was more tactical in his approach and selection of shots as he tricked Ayella with slices and volleys on the trot. His momentum was improved in the second set where he completely shut out the Ugandan with power play off his forehand.
Meanwhile, fourth seed Ibrahim Kibet had to fight to the death to beat Ugandan player David Oringa by 6-4,7-5.This was one of the epic matches on court under the sun as the pair traded wonderful shots across the courts. The experienced Coast based player had to be alert as Oringa was never giving him easy opportunities instead prodding the Kenyan spaces often.