The times are tougher with the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the world over but the script remains familiar for the national Davis Cup team as it begins its campaign at the Africa Group IV Qualifiers in Congo Brazzaville today.
Legendary coach John Oduke and his quartet of son Simon Ayella, dreadlocked Boris Aguma plus blood brothers Frank Tayebwa and Edward Birungi know the stakes are high with two coveted births at stake in Africa Group III.
Tayebwa and Ayella were part of Uganda’s botched campaign in 2019 that came close after 2-1 and 3-0 wins over Botswana and hosts Congo Brazzaville respectively only to be stunned by Rwanda 2-1 in the do-or-die qualification match.
“The matches were brutal. Desire to win comes in and he who shows more heart edges the match,” said Uganda Tennis Association (UTA) administrator Alvin Bagaya.
Both players are back in Congo and have a chance to make amends by first; finishing among the top two in Pool A to qualify for the semifinals and secondly seal the spot by securing a place in the coveted final.
In today’s opener, Namibia will have the psychological edge not only because they’re the meet’s top seeds but because they defeated Uganda 2-1 in the 2018 Group III event hosted by Nairobi, Kenya.
“This is a big competition. We are going to give it our level best. We want to do well for the nation and go to the next group next year,” debutant Edward Birungi said after yesterday’s team practice at the courts of Complex Sportif La Concorde De Kintele Brazzaville which hosted the 2011 All Africa Games.
The events will be played on a Best-Of-Three format with two singles matches and one doubles rubber.
The 16 & Under Team at the Africa Junior Team Championship final also start their campaign this morning in Cairo, Egypt and their coach Edward Odockcen is hopeful of a good showing.
“These are also Junior Davis Cup Qualifiers and it is good motivation for the young boys. Allan Otto and Troy Zziwa have played at this event before in Morocco 2019,” said Odockcen.
“Trevor Kazibwe and Zziwa also played at a similar event in Tunisia 2019. They play mature tennis despite their age.”
Zziwa is also the reigning Uganda Sports Press Association Male Tennis Player of the Year.