Mixed fortunes for host, as Kenyan Siblings lift 2017 Rwanda Open

Jejje Muhinde

As it was the case last year when DRC won the Rwanda Open circuit, Rwanda tennis players experienced mixed fortunes on home soil this year as Kenyans sealed victory record on Saturday at Petit Amahoro Stadium, Remera.

A Kenyan tennis Pro Ismael Changawa aged 20 and his sister Shuffaa Changawa aged 23 lifted the 2017 Rwanda Tennis Open both in the male and ladies singles to walk away with more than $1000 cash prizes.

While Changawa was cruising to victory against Ugandan renown Pro Duncan Mugabe in all three sets his sister was also battling Aisha Niyonkuru from Burundi in a game which lasted for two hours.

Ismael beat Mugabe in straight sets: 6-2, 7-3 before turning to the other court to cheer his sister who also won by 6-2 in the second set comeback after losing the first set by 6-2.

The game later went into a tiebreak (7-5), before she hit a deep-sliced approach shot with her backhand, to neutralize Nniyonkuru’s right shot to regain control of the point.

The Burundian talented seed could not retaliate with a crosscourt passing shot, low with topspin leaving Shuffaa to seal victory in front of a small crowd that watched the final competitions.

Her brother could not hide the grins as he hopped on court to give her a round of ovation and hug before posing for pictures while holding each other in celebration.

“This is history back at home, I can’t believe my brother won and I also won.” She said before his brother spoke in Swahili ‘Hii ni historia katika kufanya mimi’ meaning “This is history in the making I just can’t wait to celebrate back at home”

“Last year, I lost in the Rwanda Open finals. This is a comeback and first time to have won as my brother wins too in the same competition,” Shuffaa

Shuffaa Changawa during interview with the media yesterday (Elias Hakizimana)

“Duncan is a good player I have played him four times beating him; basically I have mastered his tricks: He told journalists

Early on Tuesday, Rwandan top seed Ernest Habiyambere was eliminated in group stages of singles category after losing to Burundian Abdulshakour Kabura 6-4 and, 6-1.

In the last year’s tourney (men), DR Congo-born Denis Indondo Aboma beat Duncan Mugabe of Uganda 2-0 (6-3 and 6-2) in the final.

In the Doubles, DR Congo players Salma and Dennis Indondo beat Rwandans Dieudonné Habiyambere and Olivier Havugimana 2-0 (6-2 and 6-1).

The 2017 Rwanda Open attracted 143 players from ten countries namely: Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Belgium, Italy, Tanzania, Sweden, Nepal, DR Congo and the host Rwanda.

Duncan Mugabe and Rwandan upcoming player Hamisi Gatete won the men’s doubles and shared $450.

The winners of the Singles title in both genders walked away with US$1000 in prize money, while the doubles’ winners will get US$500, while the Wheelchair tennis champions will earn US$300.

Shuffaa Changawa receiving the first award of best winner . (Elias Hakizimana)

In his address before the closing ceremony, Rwanda Tennis Federation (RTF) President Kassim Ntagerka said that this year’s event has attracted more participants and fans if you can see and we hope next year it is huge once again.

“The competition is meant to develop the sport of tennis in the country and we hope it will increase awareness of tennis, let me take this opportunity to thank the sponsors  Bank of Kigali, KIRA VISION Consultants, Ministry of Sports, fans, players and the media for making this a success.” He added.

For his part as a sponsorer, Franck Rwabuhihi, Managing Director of KIRA VISION Limited,  they have to ensure that all Rwandan and African children as well as elders are enjoying physical health driven by sport.

At least 143 players from different countries namely: Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Belgium, Italy, Tanzania, Sweden, Nepal, DR Congo and hosts Rwanda.

Players featured in the men and women professionals (Singles and doubles), Amateurs men (singles and doubles) and Wheelchair (men and women).

Male (single):

  1. Ismael Changawa Mzai (1000$)
  2. Duncan Mugabe (700$)

Women (single)

  1. Chufaa Changawa (1000$)
  2. Aisha Niyonkuru (700$)

Women (Double):

Aisha Niyonkuru and Hoziana Kitambara (390$)

Women (double)

Gatete Hamisi and Duncan Mugabe (450$)

Wheelchair amputee category


Emmanuel Temba Novatus (300$)

Rehema Saidi Selememani (300$)


Barukate and Jean Karekezi (Doubles)

Richard Munyaneza (Singles)

A Kenyan tennis Pro Ismael Changawa aged 20 and his sister Shuffaa Changawa aged 23. (Elias Hakizimana).


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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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