Kenya failed to secure promotion to Group 2 of the World Cup of Tennis after going down 2-0 to Zimbabwe in the semi-final of the Davis Cup Africa Zone Three Championship on Saturday night at the Solaimaneyah Club in Cairo.
Zimbabwe secured promotion alongside hosts Egypt, who beat Benin 2-0 in the other promotional play-off match as the six-day competition came to a close.
It was a painful loss for the Kenyan lads, who had won all their Pool B matches, enroute to the semi-final. Sheil Kotecha was first up against Benjamin Lock in the opening rubber and the 17-year-old was no match for the Zimbabwean, who won 6-1, 6-1 in the 69 minute contest.
The second rubber pitted the two countries’ number one seeded players, as Kenya’s Ismail Changawa took on Takanyi Garanganga. This tie was evenly contested with Garanganga edging it in three sets of 6-4,6-3 and 7-5 after two hours and 29 minutes on court.
With the Southern African nation taking an unassailable 2-0 lead, the doubles match was inconsequential and Zimbabwe celebrated promotion to Group 2.
Kenyan coach Rosemary Owino admitted that the loss was bitter pill to swallow having seen her charges improve with each game.
“It is tough to accept these results because they do not reflect how hard the boys fought. We have been outstanding through the tourney but I suppose we lost out to more experienced players who were able to endure till the end,” Owino told Nation Sport via phone on Sunday.
It was an improvement from last year’s outing, where Kenya finished in sixth place in the competition held at the Antananarivo University, Madagascar. In 2013, the country was tied in 11th place in the Africa Zone Group III positional play-offs after losing to Botswana 2-1.
And coach Owino admits that the country is getting better based on their performance in Egypt calling on more exposure.
“This was an improved performance as compared to last year and I think it bores down to playing regularly. If we can get our players to more international events we will narrow the gap between us and the other great countries,” she added.
The team is expected back home on Monday.
Kenya first played in the Davis Cup in 1974. It’s best performance was reaching the Europe/Africa Zone Group I semi-finals in 1992.