Rwandan men and women professional tennis players cruised to a bright start in the elite category of Rwanda Tennis Open which started on Monday at Amahoro National Stadium tennis court.
Professional players from Uganda, Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya and hosts Rwanda are participating in a week-long tournament set to climax on Sunday.
On Monday, Rwanda’s Olivier Havugimana who is seeded fifth edged fellow country mate and Ibirunga player Evariste Twagirayezu 6-4 6-1, CSK’s Eric Uwamahoro defeated Nyarutarama’s Robert Ndagijimana 6-3 6-2, seed seven Dieudonne Habiyambe dispatched Jean Pierre Munyampeta 6-3 6-1 while Janvier Mugwaneza defeated Luis Marie Dusingizimana 6-3 6-1 in men’s category.
Havugimana is also not taking anything for granted as he has hopes to use home advantage to put up a good fight.
“This is a very big competition with best players from the region. I am working hard to ensure that at least the title remains home,” added the CSK star.
The tournament’s seed two Ismail Changawa from Kenya cruised to second round after defeating Rwandan Yannick Muvunyi 6-1 6-1 before Burundian Abdulshakur Kabura ended Rwanda’s seed three Ernest Habiyambere’s hopes proceeding further as he succumbed to 4-6 1-6 loss.
DR Congo’s Christian Diamba who is seeded eighth progressed to the second round after defeating Rwanda’s Bertin Karenzi 6-3 6-2 while another Congolese Bienvenue Bolangi edged out Rwandan Emmanuel Twagirayezu 6-0 6-2.
In other matches, Burundian Issa Cuma registered a comfortable 6-1 6-0 win over Rwandan Jean Bosco Hakorimana, Rwandan Mubaraka Harerimana got into the second round without sweating after his opponent Fabrice Tuyishime withdrew on medical grounds, Kenyan fourth seed Ibrahim Kibet defeated Rwandan Ernest Kayiranga 6-2 6-1 before fellow country mate, seed six Kevin Cheruiyot sent out Rwandan Rukuman Rwandekwe 6-2 6-0.
Ugandan top seed Duncan Mugabe concludes the first round action in men’s category against Rwandan Hamisi Gatete onTuesday with Ugandan David Oringa up against Rwandan Augustin Nkuranga before Congolese Mukeba Kanku takes on Ugandan Boris Aguma in the two remaining matches.
In the women category, Rwandan seed four Gisele Umumararungu, sixth seed Marie Chantal Mutuyimana, Jocylene Umulisa, Flavia Kayitesi, Olive Tuyisenge, Megane Ingabire and Kenya’s top seed Shufaa Changwa got byes into the Tuesday’s second round.
Others who got a bye into the second round include Burundian seed two Aisha Niyonkuru, fifth seed Hosiane Kitambala and Kenyan seed seven Julliete Cherono.
Rwandan Firdaus Cyiza edged Consolee Umuregwa 6-1 6-0 while Sweden’s Sarah Haglund dispatched Rwandan Hope Rutagengwa to power into second round.
Action continues on Tuesday with second round action in both men and women categories.
This year’s edition of Rwandan Tennis Open comprises of three categories namely; juniors U-16, amateurs, wheelchair tennis and professionals or seniors.
The Men and women’s singles has attracted 32 players in each category while a total of 16 will compete in the doubles category.
The event, which is organised by the Rwanda Tennis Federation in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports and Culture, Bank of Kigali and Tigo, will see the winners take home US$1000 (men) and US$1000 (women) in prize money.