Barry Silah @obel_barry
Ismael Changawa won his third title in as many months after trouncing Ugandan rival Duncan Mugabe 6-0,6-2 yesterday at the men’s finals of the Karen Tennis Championships.
The 21-year-old who also won the Rwanda and Malawi Open tournaments in the past two months showed his grit and skill against one of the toughest opponents in the tour.
This was his first championship win in home soil following his semi-finals loss early this year in the prestigious Kenya Open Championships. US-based Changawa was in a class of his own as he dominated his more experienced opponent with deadly power coupled with precision play in between enticing rallies in a match that took one hour and eight minutes.
The opening set was all on Changawa as his opponent struggled for rhythm as the big hitting left-hander left nothing to chance. His deep forehand shots compounded by good coverage of the court put Mugabe under immense pressure. Changawa who has now beaten the Ugandan four times recently owned the court even spicing up the show with slick flicks.
The Kenyan star who also pocketed USD 950 (Sh95,000) as a reward came alive in the second set not allowing his opponent any space to breathe. His point winners were consistent as compared to Mugabe who fluffed most of his balls.
To complicate matters for the pearl nation player, Changawa’s defence was rock solid as he took in all that was thrown at him. Even though he had sneaked in two games wins in between the set, his inability to close out opportunities cost him.
“I knew what balls to play because I have studied his pattern for a while now. This is my fourth win against him and I was very dominant in this match. This was an easy fixture and my strategy and confidence worked well,” said Changawa who had beaten his counterpart Ibrahim Kibet on Friday on his way to the finals.
Meanwhile in the Girls finals, Celestine Avomo of Gabon beat Aisha Niyonkuru of Burundi 6-1,7-5 in another enthralling match. First set was smooth sailing for the Gabonese stalwart as she dropped only one game against the enterprising Burundian player. The vastly experienced who trains with the ITF East African Training Centre in Nairobi was always in control.
The Gabonese who had beaten Africa Junior Masters junior champion Sneha Kotecha of Kenya on Saturday in the semi-finals was very varied in her play as she neutralised her opponent’s net presence.
In the wheelchair finals, Kenyans were well represented with mixed results in the finals against Tanzanian opponents. Veteran Jane Ndenga beat Rehema Selemani 6-0,6-1 in a one sided match while Collins Omondi fell to Novatus Emmanuel 7-6,6-1.