Nairobi, Sep 12 : Kenya won its first match beating Madagascar in straight sets in the singles as the Davis Cup Africa Group III tournament got underway here on Wednesday.
The host side weathered the pressure and proved their credentials as they saw off Madagascar in the first singles match of the day 6-4, 6-3.
Kenya is in a tricky group that has Benin, Algeria and Madagascar. Last year, Kenya won 2-1 in their encounter with Benin in the promotional playoffs to top the competition together with Namibia.
Top-ranked side Tunisia headline Group A where they will face Namibia, Nigeria and Mozambique.
Kenya coach Rosemary Owino has named experienced Ismael Changawa, Ibrahim Kibet, Kevin Cheruiyot and Albert Njogu in the team. Kenya will miss the services of Sheila Kotecha with Changawa leading the team.
"The draw is fair. We are not afraid of our opponents as we have fine-tuned the boys to compete against the best," said Owino on Wednesday.
Kibet was relieved of the first win, which puts them in the best position to win the tournament.
"Being the first to play and the first set pushed me hard. My coach was giving me the inspiration and believed me and I made it. After this match, a lot of things are running through the mind, we can do this and I want Kenyans to believe in us," said Kibet.
From last year's tournament, which Kenya won by beating Benin, they earned promotion but it would later be rescinded as a result of ranking changes by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which took effect this year.
But coach Owino is certain, they will return to the Euro/Africa Group II stage after this tournament.
The teams will battle in a round-robin format with the top two in each group clashing in the playoffs on Saturday. (UNI-XINHUA)