Billie Jean King Cup: Team Kenya raring to go

Angella Okutoyi

Angella Okutoyi poses for a photo with the winning trophy at the Rwanda Open 2022 in Kigali on December 18, 2022.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Team Kenya comprises USA-based Okutoyi (Auburn University), Owegi (Alabama University) and Okutoyi’s twin sister Roselida Asumwa (Cowley College) and Mbagathi Road Secondary School student Cynthia Wanjala.
  • Stacy Yego and Zimbabwe-based Melissa Mwakha are the reserve players.

Confidence is building up in Team Kenya camp ahead of the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Africa Group III scheduled for June 12-17 in Nairobi.

On Friday, 2022 Junior Wimbledon Doubles champion Angella Okutoyi along with Alicia Owegi stepped up their training under coach Francis Rogoi in Nairobi.

They remain confident Kenya will shine in the 12-nation tournament which will be held at Nairobi Club where the murram courts are currently being upgraded to internationally recognised clay courts.

Team Kenya comprises USA-based Okutoyi (Auburn University), Owegi (Alabama University) and Okutoyi’s twin sister Roselida Asumwa (Cowley College) and Mbagathi Road Secondary School student Cynthia Wanjala.

Stacy Yego and Zimbabwe-based Melissa Mwakha are the reserve players.

“This is my third time being in the Billie Jean King Cup. It’s being held in Kenya after over 20 years, so it’s going to be a great experience for all of us,” said Okutoyi on Friday at the Public Service Club where the team is putting in five hours of training every day on weekdays.

“I like playing in front of big crowds. I’m expecting more than a big crowd, and at home, so it’s going to feel more special,” added Okutoyi, who missed last year's event as it collided with Junior Wimbledon Championships in England where she bagged the doubles crown alongside Rose Marie Nijkamp from the Netherlands.

On the teams’ expectation, Okutoyi says they want to win and qualify to the Europe/Africa Zone Group II in 2024.

“That’s what we are really looking forward to as a team. I believe we can because we have been practicing so hard. Let’s wait and see, but that’s our main goal. We are ready for the challenge,” says Okutoyi.

She urged Kenyans to come to Nairobi Club and support Team Kenya. “We really need your support. It’s going to really help us. We love playing in front of big crowds. It’s going to be so fantastic. Don’t miss out,” said Okutoyi, who arrived in the country last weekend from the USA.

She has completed her first semester at Auburn University where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management as well as tennis on a full scholarship.

Owegi is done with her first year at Alabama University. She is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences. Owegi says she is looking good and confident.

“Last year, competition was tough in North Macedonia. I was just trying to gain experience. This time, we have a good chance of doing better than the previous years. I’m looking forward to playing on my home court,” added Owegi.

She was delighted that the tournament was coming to Kenya for the first time since 1995 when it was known as FedCup.

“It will give Kenyans a great opportunity to see what tennis is about, and support us. It is really good for the next generation to reach the level we are competing against,” noted Owegi.

“I just want to enjoy myself, enjoy being part of this team and do my best. We are a pretty good team. We have basically grown up together. I’m just looking forward to playing with them.”

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