Day two of the 2016 African Nations Cup saw second round Men’s matches and Ladies’ first round matches with a significant domination from North Africa.
Top seed Amine Ahouda from Morocco made light work of Cote‘d Ivoire’s Sarma Nkulufa losing only a single game to the Ivorian to move into the last eight. The Men’s draw sees four North Africans in the Quarterfinals slots with Morocco a 3-1 ratio against Tunisia.
Kenya’s Ismael Chamgawa Mzai, the host’s highest hope for a medal played Ivan Mamata from Congo Brazzaville. A contested call with the ball skidding off the chalk handed Changawa an important point which saw him go on to take the opening set 6-3 with the help of a single service break which saw Mamata shaken.
The second set was also a closely contested one with both players holding serve throughout the game to see the set go to a tie break to decide a winner or a third set. Changawa led 3-1 in the breaker before Mamata held solid to lead 5-3. The pendulum swung in the Kenyan’s favour over the next few points with Changawa holding and taking the set and match, 6-3 7-5 (5) to earn himself a Quarterfinal berth against danger man Amine Ahouda (Morocco)
Changawa is joined in the last eight by his compatriot Sheil Kotecha as the only two surviving Kenyans on the Men’s side. Kotecha having fazed down a booming serve and ground strokes from Ivorian Abdoul Outtara on the opening day had the going much easier in his second round match against Congolese Christian Saidi with the Kenyan emerging a 6-0 6-2 winner.
Kotecha (pictured above) will next play second seeded Tunisian Moez Echargui. Echargui hasn’t dropped a single game in the Nations Cup having earned a bye into the second round and completely dominating Sudan’s Noor Rushdi in Round Two to earn an easy passage into the quarters.
Fourth seed and defending champion Denis Indondo from Congo DRC survived a massive scare from Kenyan Petty Andanda who always gives as good as he gets. Having stood on the brink of elimination over a late arrival at the tournament venue, Indondo suffered a slow start to see the Kenyan lead 4-1 in the opening set, eliciting a wry smile from the 2014 champion. Indondo however got his wit back and clawed himself back into the match to eventually win it, 6-4 6-1.
Ethiopia’s Melkamu Sereche and Moroccan Mehdi Jdi closed out the last eight with wins over Paterne Mamata (Congo – DRC) and Mohamed Ali Bellalouna (TUN) respectively. Melkamu fought hard to beat Mamata in three sets in a match thatswung to either extreme. 2-6 6-3 6-1 was the final score in favour of the Ethiopian. Jdi the third Moroccan in the last eight, on the other hand was never in any trouble against Tunisian Bellalouna (Bellalouna beat Kenya’s Ibrahim Kibet) winning in convincing fashion 6-2 6-3.
On the opening day of Women’s play, Kenya’s Shufaa Changawa proved a strong contender to the title, easily putting aside Ivorian Adomon Marie Ange Sia in two straight sets, 6-2 6-1 to set up a scintillating tie against Tunisian top seed Chiraz Bechri. Bechri herself was in flawless poise winning easy against Mozambican Marieta Ntamitambo, 6-1 6-0.
Except for Changawa, the rest of the Kenyan Women’s team were first round casualties with Paige Mbugua going down to Moroccan Lilya Hadab 6-1 6-1, Faith Nyabera lost to second seeded Rita Atik (Morocco) 6-0 6-2 with Katarina Karanja fading against the Britam Kenya Open’s Ladies Doubles champion, Congolese Nancy Onya.
North African domination continued on the Women’s draw with another Moroccan Diae El Jardi soaring above Burundi’s Mariam Mujawimana in an easy 6-1 6-0 score line. The quarterfinal line up stands as: Chiraz Bechri (TUN) vs Shufaa Changawa (KEN), Diae El Jardi (MAR) vs Nancy Onya (COD), Lilya Hadab (MAR) vs Celestine Avomo Ella (GAB) and Mouna Bouzgarrou (TUN) vs Rita Atik (MAR)
Doubles action takes the afternoon.