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Tennis resurgence:Kipchoge grabs Soya top gong as TK family makes their presence felt



Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge might have deservedly run away with the overall Safaricom Sports Personality of the year (SOYA) Awards title but it is the resurgence of the tennis fraternity that has left the industry in awe.

The sport grabbed eight of the 48 trophies on offer in the schools, senior, junior, wheelchair, team and coaches’ categories.

Rosemary Owino was awards the coach of the year after guiding Team Kenya back to Davis Cup Euro/ Africa Group II tennis championships after a 13-year absence. Under her tutelage, the duo of Ismael Changawa and Ibrahim Kibet beat tournament top seeds — Alexis Klegou and Felix Hounkpevi ­— from Benin in the finals staged at Nairobi Club. Owino, an experienced tennis coach, event planner and sports manager guided Sheil Kotecha too, to win the boys U18 Davis Cup singles title.

She observed that the road has not been easy but believes this is a challenge to the rest of her colleagues and even the not so popular sports that with hard work anything is possible.

“It’s a challenge to the female players to venture into coaching and officiating once they retire from competitive play,” she said. “It shows we have a lot to offer and I will be working closely with the national team coach, Caroline Oduor, to nurture young and upcoming female coaches.”

“The fete brings great motivation to the Davis Cup team and it’s a perfect reward to the federation for their input to develop the game.”

She added: “Going forward, we have to focus more on youth development to safeguard the future of Kenyan tennis. The structures we have right now and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) circuits provide the best platforms and I strongly believe we will have the right players for future assignments.”

Meanwhile, Kenya Secondary School Sports Association secretary David Ngugi said that, in as much as he was surprised by their Federation of the Year award, they have done everything right this year.

He said the KSSSA programme officially acts as a feeder programme for not only clubs but also the national team. “We have been very consistent with our programmes and national federations literally come to scout for players at our respective competition grounds,” he said.

Ngugi added that they have equally worked hard to ensure that Kenyan teams dominate the events at East Africa level. “Besides, KSSSA is working with other federations in the region to ensure that we rule not only the continental level, but the world as a whole,” he said.

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