Kenyans' crisp serves keep them afloat at African tourney

Kenya's Cynthia Cheruto during THE 62nd Edition of Billie Jean King Cup Group III Africa tournament at Nairobi Club on Monday, June 1o, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya is on course to securing a promotion to the Billie Jean King Cup Africa Zone Group II after beating Burundi 2-1 in their last Group B match played on Wednesday at Nairobi Club.

Cynthia Cheruto, who had a fun day on the court, was delighted to have triumphed over the Burundian and put Kenya one foot into the final race for a promotion.

“I’m happy to have won this match. I played well, my serves were strong and I also managed the pressure of knowing that it was a must-win match for us by taking deep breaths and focusing on the task at hand,” Cheruto said.

She added that her objective and that of the entire team is to earn a promotion to Group II and she is determined to make it happen.

“I will feel good to be part of the team that gets Kenya elevated to Group II. I want it, we all want it and I assure Kenyans that with their unwavering support we can do it.”

Cheruto staged a brilliant show in the first rubber to set Kenya on path to victory with African Games champion Angela Okutoyi completing the job in the second match.

With only Burundi standing between them and a slot in the last three, Wanjala relentlessly battled Burundi’s Hoziane Kitambala in tightly contested first set before snatching it 6-4 and gained the upper hand.

Her first set win did not come easy as she had to fight from three games down to level the scores 3-3.

Kitambala later restored her 4-3 lead before Kenyans cheered Cheruto to win the next game and level the scores. The Kenyan star then dominated the Burundian to win the following two games and take a one set advantage.

Cheruto called the shots in the second set as Kitambala struggled to contain her despite having won the first game of the second set. Wanjala then came from a game down to win the set 6-1 and give Kenya a 1-0 lead.

Okutoyi was next on court facing a familiar foe in Sada Nahimana in yet another high stakes rubber. The Burundian is also ranked higher than her in the latest women’s world rankings.

Okutoyi regained her footing to win the second game with Nahimana restoring her lead in the third game.

Okutoyi recovered to take the first set 6-4. She then fought in the second set to chalk victory by the same margin and seal Kenya’s spot in the last three.

The Kenyan duo of Roselida Asumwa and Stacy Yego lost to Burundi’s Nahimana and Kitambala in a dead rubber doubles encounter.

Kenya will now take on tournament top seeds South Africa who topped Group A and Nigeria who emerged tops in Group C.

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