Kenya on brink of Davis Cup promotion

By Clement Wekulo: Saturday, September 14th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Tennis

Team Kenya's Kevin Cheruiyot during the 2019 Edition of Davis Cup Africa Group III at Nairobi club on Wednesday, Sept 11, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya will face Mozambique in the Davis Cup Africa Group III promotion playoff at Nairobi Club today, with the winner of the match sealing qualification to the 2020 Euro and Africa Group II. 

The Kenyan team, which is ranked 76th globally, finished top of pool B after picking three wins in three matches while the Mozambicans settled for the second position in pool A. 

The other promotion playoff will see top seeds Tunisia clash with Madagascar for a chance to be elevated to Group II. 

Having beaten Madagascar and Algeria by identical 2-1 scorelines, Kenya, under the tutelage of Rosemary Owino, faced Benin yesterday in their last match of the preliminaries which they won 2-1, just as they did when the sides faced off in the 2018 playoffs.

Albert Njogu took to the courts against his Benin counterpart Delmas N'tcha, a match which the Kenyan lost in straight sets of 6-3,6-2.

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It was a below-par performance from Njogu, who seemed to struggle with the powerful serves and receptions from the 19-year-old Beninese. 

Kenya would then redeem themselves in the second rubber as they leveled the scores courtesy of Kevin Cheruiyot who relied on a second set tie-break to dismiss Sylvestre Monnou 6-3,7-6 (3). 

"The fans have been playing a big role in terms of motivation. I have not been consistent enough; one time I play well, the other I am down. That's an area I am hoping to improve on. If I get a chance to play in the singles tomorrow (today) I will try to be more consistent in gaining points," said Cheruiyot. 

With Owino's team having restored parity, the duo of Ismael Changawa and Ibrahim Kibet teamed up in the doubles event which would serve as a decider. The pair, buoyed by a partisan home crowd, went on to beat the Beninese duo of Alexis Klegou and Arnaud Sewanou 7-5,7-6 (8)

Meanwhile, the quartet of Namibia, Nigeria, Algeria, and Benin are embroiled in a relegation battle as they are set to clash in the relegation playoffs having failed to finish in the top two in their respective pools. 

Nigeria ranked 88th in the global Davis Cup standings, finished bottom of pool A after losing all their three matches and they will face pool B's third-place finishers Algeria. The loser of this tie will be relegated to the Davis Cup Africa Group IV starting next year. The other relegation playoff will pit Benin against Namibia. 

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