The New Times (Kigali)

Egypt/Rwanda: Gasigwa to Lead Rwanda's Davis Cup Team in Cairo

Jean Claude Gasigwa will lead Rwanda's campaign at the Davis Cup Africa Zone Group III tournament in Cairo, Egypt.

Rwanda's four-man team leaves on Sunday for this year's campaign aiming to fight to earn promotion to Group II. Other players on the team include; Dieudonne Habiyambere, Mubarak Harelimana and Gatete Hamisi.

The tournament runs from May 13 through 18 at the Smash Tennis Academy, in Egypt's capital. The venue is an outdoor clay surface.

The tournament will be played on round-robin basis with the fourteen participating nations placed in four pools.

Top nations in pools A and B will then play off against top nations in pools C and D, with two winning nations promoted to Europe/Africa Zone Group II for 2014.

The Davis Cup team head coach Slyvain Rutikanga told Saturday Sport yesterday that they are taking the tournament seriously as they aim to gain promotion to Group II.

"It's the highest team competition in the world and it measures the level of (tennis) development in each participating country," said Rutikanga, adding he is hopeful of promotion.

The 28-year-old Gasigwa will spearhead the country's campaign as the most experienced tennis player having participated in Davis Cup tornament before.

Rwanda's best Davis Cup performance was a seventh place finish in Europe/Africa Zone Group III in 2009.

Despite being the most experienced player in the country, Gasigwa who has made seven appearances in Davis Cup competitions is yet to guide the country to the title.

Ranked 1778 worldwide, Gasigwa, has won nine matches [five single and four double wins] out of the 33 outdoor matches of all Davis Cup appearances.

This year, his form improved greatly, ending a two-year jinx to win the Castle Lite Uganda Open Tennis Championships in March.

Gasigwa dispatched his compatriot Dieudonne Habiyambere in straight sets 6-4, 6-1 in the final match that lasted nearly two hours at the Kampala Club.

Got funds

The Rwanda Tennis Federation has been facing financial difficulties but recently managed to raise money needed for the team to travel to Egypt. The hosts Egypt were relegated to Africa Zone Group III for this year's event.

The Davis Cup began in 1900 as a competition between USA and Great Britain. It is now the world's largest annual international team competition in sport, with 130 nations participating in 2013.

The tourney will see Rwanda fight for one of two promotion places with Zimbabwe, Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, hosts Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria and Zambia.

The World Group is the highest rank in Davis Cup tennis.

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