Tunisia up next for victorious Kenyan tennis girls Okutoyi, Wanjala

Angella Okutoyi

Kenya Tennis Team Manager Caroline Odour (right) and Stacy Yego congratulate Angella Okutoyi after her match against Mauritius Tejaswini Jessoo during Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge on June 10th 2024 at Nairobi Club

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Kenya made light work of Mauritius in their opening match of Pool “B” of Billie Jean King Cup Africa Group III tournament yesterday at Nairobi Club, but face a tricky assignments against Tunisia on Tuesday, June 11, before playing Burundi on Wednesday, June 12.

Home player Cynthia Wanjala,19, came from behind in both sets to defeat 14-year-old Anna Chan of Mauritius 6-3, 6-1 in the first match, as African Games singles champion Angella Okutoyi,20, thrashed Tejaswini Jesoo,17, in the second match 6-0, 6-0 to hand Kenya a 2-0 lead. Alicia Owegi and Okutoyi’s twin sister, Roselida Asumwa, partnered in the doubles, which they won 6-3, 6-3.

“It was a good match against Chan although I made many mistakes in service, and I double-faulted a lot, especially in the first set,” Wanjala, who won silver at the African Games in Ghana in March alongside her partner Okutoyi, said.

For her part, Chan said: “It is my first time to compete in the Billie Jean King Cup. I’m happy with my performance, but I feel I could have done better. My opponent had the power which caused me a lot of problems.”

Mauritian coach, Bernard Thomas, was satisfied with the performance of Chan, who is the youngest player in the week-long competition.

Auburn University student Okutoyi (world no.491), who inspired Kenya to win bronze during last year’s edition at Billie Jean King Cup Africa Group III tournament, was happy to have finished the job early against Jesoo.


“My plan was to be aggressive from the word go, and I am happy it worked,” Okutoyi said, adding that qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics was still on her mind, even as she strives to compete favourably in Billie Jean King Cup Africa Group III tournament

Jesoo said she was honoured to play African Games champion Okutoyi, but felt pressure throughout her match.

Kenya team took the clay courts in high spirits after Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba announced that the government had injected Sh14 million towards the success of the 12-nation event. Part of the money will go towards allowances of the team.

Before Monday, June 10th’s clash, Kenya and Mauritius had only faced off once, way back in April 2000 in Europe/Africa II Pool “A” in Estoril, Portugal when the tournament was called Fed Cup. The islanders triumphed 1-0 against Kenya who were represented by Esther Mbugua and Evelyn Otula.

In another Pool “B” match held on Monday, Sada Nahimana (world no.364) inspired Burundi to stun last year’s finalists Tunisia 2-1.

South Africa, who are back in Group III after being demoted from Europe/Africa Group II, humbled Namibia 3-0, as Zimbabwe welcomed newly-promoted Madagascar with a 3-0 thumping in Pool “A”.

Nigeria, who finished fourth last year and were the only side to beat Kenya in the last edition, trounced Uganda 3-0 in Pool “C”. Barakat Quadre defeated Patience Athieno 6-0, 6-1 and Divine Nweke saw off Winnie Birungi 6-0, 6-0 in singles. Ghana defeated Botswana 2-1.

In today’s fixture against Tunisia, Kenya will be hunting for revenge after their last meeting ended with a 3-0 win for the North Africans in April 2004 in Marsa, Malta in Europe/Africa III Play-offs.

WTA ranking points are not awarded for Billie Jean King Cup participation or victories. There is also no prize money.

Kenya has played in the Billie Jean King Cup for 15 years since making their debut in 1991. Okutoyi holds the national record for most total wins (11-5), most singles wins (7-3) and most doubles wins (4-2) at Billie Jean King Cup.

She is also the youngest ever player to represent Kenya at the annual event after she made her first appearance in 2018 aged 14 years, two months and 19 days.