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Kenyan duo clinch semi-final tickets at ITF Junior Circuit

Albert Njogu overcame minimal challenge to sail through to the semi-finals of the ITF East Africa Junior Circuit after downing Ukrainian Tarus Pakhnchenko 6-3, 6-1 at Nairobi Club yesterday.

Straight from an earlier 6-4, 6-4 victory over Devin Badenhorst of South Africa, the Kenyan showed no signs of tire as his resilience and court movement helped a lot in his quest to get his second juniors title of the calendar.

Pakhnchenko and Njogu exchanged enticing shots between them as they sized each other up in the opening set of the quarter while fighting for valuable points.

Despite dropping three games, Njogu was confident in his play and his returns were a joy to watch.

He scored points on the net as he forced his opponent into impossible situations with the Ukrainian being less decent on the clay surface mostly.

The Kenyan third seed then converted his balls accurately with the European scrambling for scraps. Pakhnchenko had a power serve and delightful backhands but was hard done by erratic net presence.

In the second set, things fell apart for Pakhnchenko as Njogu stepped his game up. He was precise in his shots and effective in the net area as he pinned the European tour player.

Njogu only dropped a single game in the process as Pakhnchenko made multiple errors off his returns. Njogu improved on his serve as the games wore on.

Meanwhile, Ryan Randiek and Derrick Ominde did not fare well. Randiek, who shone in the third round 24 hours earlier in a 6-2, 6-2 demolition of French youngster Youssef Baccouche, was not as lucky as he went down  6-4, 6-4 to Damien Laporte of Seychelles in a titanic battle.

The former Africa Junior Masters champion gave a splendid performance particularly on the returns but could not handle his opponent’s quick switch of play from short to long balls.

Laporte took advantage of Randiek’s long stay in the baseline to attack the net frequently.

In the girls’ contest, Sneha Kotecha gave the local fans something to cheer about after overpowering Serbian Andjela Lopicic in straight sets of 6-2, 6-3 to take her to a fourth consecutive juniors semi-final.  Her serve strength and good backhands made light work of her opponent in a silky display.

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