• Initially, Owino had settled for Kibet and Albert Njogu in the finals but it is after settling for a one-all draw in the first single matches that she rung changes in the doubles.
• Changawa survived a second set scare from Nazim Makhlouf to prevail 6-4,7-5 to draw Kenya level.
A final-minute tactical change by coach Rosemary Owino in the doubles paid off for Ibrahim Kibet and Ismael Changawa as Kenya floored Algeria 2-1 to advance to the playoff of the Davis Cup yesterday at Nairobi Club.
Initially, Owino had settled for Kibet and Albert Njogu in the finals but it is after settling for a one-all draw in the first single matches that she rung changes in the doubles to ensure the country’s hard-fought 6-4, 7-6, 6-4 to book a place in the playoff with a match to spare.
“We had a small last-minute technical meeting just seconds to the doubles where we decided to pair Changawa and Kibet rather than the latter and Njogu. I am a happy coach as the strategy paid off and we are in the playoffs.”
It was a false start for the home side who had Kelvin Cheruiyot open proceedings in the first singles duel where he surrendered a one-set advantage to go down fighting 7-6 (5), 3-6, 3-6 to Youcef Rihane.
Cheruiyot who had won his singles opening match on Wednesday against Lucas Andriamasilalao of Madagascar rued his third set tact but at the same time showered his opponent with praise for a spirited fight in the determiner.
“I played well but I did not take my chances in the third set. He came out guns blazing in the final one but all is not lost. It was a tough match but I am confident we will get promoted to the next group.”
Perhaps after watching his compatriot fall, top seed Changawa survived a second set scare from Nazim Makhlouf to prevail 6-4,7-5 to draw Kenya level.
The hard-hitting Changawa staged a dramatic comeback in the second set which seemed destined in favour of the Algerian but he recovered from 5-2 down to give the anxious fans who had turned up something to smile about.