Kenya made it three wins on the trot after a hard fought 2-1 victory over Benin on Wednesday night in the ongoing Davis Cup Africa Zone Three Tennis Championship at the Solaimaneyah Club in Cairo.
The win consolidated Kenya’s place at the top of Pool B after three wins and puts them on course to reach the semis.
It was sweet revenge for the Kenyans, who lost to Benin in the same stage in last year’s competition held in Madagascar.
Kenya’s Sheil Kotecha, Ismail Changawa and Ibrahim Kibet were yet again impressive against the west Africans.
Both countries won their respective singles match, with Sheil Kotecha comfortably beating Felix Hounkpevi 6-3, 6-1 in the opening rubber.
However, the West Africans rallied to take the second rubber as their top seed Alexis Klegou saw off Kenya’s number one Ismail Changawa 6-3, 6-2 to level the contest, setting up the stage for a thrilling deciding doubles contest.
Kibet stepped to partner Changawa, with Delmas N’tcha partnered Klegou on the other side of the net. The Kenyan duo took the first set 6-3 but their opponents would not go down without a fight, winning a close second set 7-5.
Drama unfolded in the final and deciding set as the quartet treated the fans to a thrilling finish. It seemed Benin would carry the day after they broke for a 5-2 lead but Kibet and Changawa rallied to level 5-5, saving eight match points to the delight of Kenyan coach Rosemary Owino.
With the tie headed to a tie break, the Kenyans capitalised on their opponents’ poor serve, held their nerve to see out the match 7-6 after two hours and 45 minutes.
Coach Owino was over the moon after the result, praising her charges’ fighting spirit in the closely fought contest.
“I think our performances have improved with each game and our mental strength is equally impressive, the lads showed great fighting spirit,” Owino told Nation Sport via phone.
She called on her charges to finish the job against Libya in their final encounter Friday evening.
“We want to end on a high and then plan for the semis where the real test lies,” she added.
In the other Pool B match, Algeria beat Botswana 3-0. In Pool A, favourites and hosts Egypt and Zimbabwe are on course to finish as the top two after winning their second pool matches.
Egypt beat Rwanda 3-0, while Zimbabwe were 2-1 winners over Nigeria. The two giants face off Friday in their final match.
The top two teams in each pool advance to the semis, with the winners being promoted to Group 2 of the World Cup of Tennis.
Kenya beat Botswana 3-0 in their opening match on Monday.