TRICKY AFFAIR

Kenya face Nigeria in Billie Jean King Cup semifinals

Okutoyi said having trained and played with her over the years had given a slight advantage

In Summary

•Africa games champion Angela Okutoyi defeated training partner Sada Nahimana 6-4 , 6-4 in a tough encounter to give Team Kenya a 2-0 lead.

•The hosts will be gunning for revenge after losing in the same stage of competition to the West Africans 2-1 at the same venue a year ago.

Angela Okutoyi celebrates a point during the recent African Games in Accra, Ghana
Angela Okutoyi celebrates a point during the recent African Games in Accra, Ghana
Image: HANDOUT

Kenya face Nigeria as the semifinals of the Billie Jean King Cup Africa Group III tournament begin at the Nairobi Club on Thursday.

The hosts will be gunning for revenge after losing 2-1 in the same stage of competition to the west Africans at the same venue a year ago.

The semifinals will be played in a round-robin format with Nigeria playing South Africa on Friday and Kenya facing South Africa on Saturday.

The winner gaining promotion to Group II next year.

Coach Francis Rogoi said they will have to put in a perfect performance to reach the final.

“It's going to be a tough battle. Both teams know what is at stake. We are urging fans to rally behind the team and cheer us to victory,” said Rogoi.

Team Kenya finished top of Pool 'B' with three wins — 3-0 over Mauritius, 2-1 over Tunisia and 2-1 over Burundi.

Cynthia Cheruto set the ball rolling in Wednesday's matches with a 6-4 6-1 win over Hoziane Kitambala. The Burundian matched Cheruto in tough first set but the home player showed nerves of steel in the deciding two games to win the set.

Kitambala's game collapsed in the second set, handing the momentum to Cheruto, who capitalised on unforced errors and double faults to run away with the set and match.

Cheruto said: The first set was balanced but I kept my composure and was motivated even in the tight points and I am glad I have secured a win for Kenya." 

African Games champion Angela Okutoyi defeated training partner Sada Nahimana of Burundi 6-4 6-4 in a tough encounter to give Team Kenya a 2-0 lead.

The two met in the singles category during the W15 tournament in August 2019 with the Burundian prevailing 2-6 6-2 7-6.

They combined to win the doubles category of the W25 tournament in December at the Nairobi Club.

Okutoyi said having trained and played with Nahimana gave her a slight advantage.

"We are familiar with each other's style of play. I knew her weak areas and when it came to crucial points, I was able to hold my nerve," she said.

However, Team Kenya lost the doubles category after Stacy Yego and Rosehilda Asumwa succumbed 3-6 7-5  10-7 to Kitambala and Nahimana.