What you need to know:
- Okutoyi, 18, defeated Moroccan Aya El Aouni 6-3, 6-3 in last year’s final in Sousse to become the first ever Kenyan champion of the 18 & Under tournament
- The Africa Closed Junior Championships has attracted the best players including Tunisian Meriem Ezzedine, Botswana’s Ekua Youri and Moroccan Malak El Allami all who Okutoyi defeated on her way to African glory last year
- Owegi,18, and Wanjala, 17, warmed up for JB2 Sousse with the J5 Nabeul tournament in Tunisia
Tennis star Angela Okutoyi will hope to redeem herself after a drop in performance when she competes at the Africa Closed Junior Championships (JB2 Sousse) slated for March 28 to April 1 in Sousse, Tunisia.
Ranked 59th on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior rankings, the reigning champion along with Alicia Owegi (765) and Cynthia Wanjala (978) will represent Kenya at the tournament.
The three are the best ranked women players in junior tennis in the country. Kenya has no representative in the boys’ category after top-ranked player in the country Kael Shah (736) withdrew. No reason has been given for his withdrawal.
Okutoyi, 18, defeated Moroccan Aya El Aouni 6-3, 6-3 in last year’s final in Sousse to become the first ever Kenyan champion of the 18 & Under tournament, so she will be out to defend her title.
The two-time LG/SJAK sports personality of the month award winner will be desperate to rise again after several early exits in recent tournaments.
Slovenian Falkner Ziva knocked her out in quarter-finals at the W15 Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt on March 7 and then she lost against Japanese Ramu Ueda in W15 Sharm El Sheikh in the first round on March 14 and suffered another quarter-final exit against Sandugash Kenzhibayeva from Kazakhstan at the J1 Casablanca, Morocco.
In her last outing, Okutoyi was eliminated in straight sets by German Chantal Sauvant in the first round at the W15 Marrakech on March 21.
Ahead of JB2 Sousse, Tennis Kenya Secretary General Wanjiru Mbugua had some advice for Okutoyi. “We trust in the system we have our together for you, keep to the program, keep giving it your best and results will come.”
Owegi,18, and Wanjala, 17, warmed up for JB2 Sousse with the J5 Nabeul tournament in Tunisia.
Seeded seventh in Nabeul, Owegi was scheduled to face Belarussian Polina Kuharenko in quarter-finals later on Saturday. She had swept aside Tunisia Meriem Makhlouf 5-3, 1-4, 10-7 and Serbian Stela Dzimovic 3-5, 5-4, 10-6 in the first two rounds respectively. Wanjala lost in the first round 4-1, 2-4, 1-10 against Italian Glada Di Paola.
The Africa Closed Junior Championships has attracted the best players including Tunisian Meriem Ezzedine, Botswana’s Ekua Youri and Moroccan Malak El Allami all who Okutoyi defeated on her way to African glory last year.
It could just be what Okutoyi needs to bounce back as she gears up for the Roland Garros Junior Championships in France slated for May 29 to June 5.
In January this year, Okutoyi made history by being the first Kenyan woman to win a match at a junior grand slam tournament. She defeated Italian Federica Urgesi and Australian Zara Larke in the first two rounds before being stopped by Serbian Lola Radlvojevic in the third round.