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Kenyan duo go flat out to soar higher in ITF circuit final

Saturday will see three Kenyans feature in the finals of the ITF East Africa under 18 Junior Circuit Champions at Nairobi Club after whirlwind semi-final matches.

Sneha Kotecha and Albert Njogu had to fight to the teeth to ensure they had a shot in the first leg of the ranking tournament against tough opponents. Both are eyeing respective wins to establish a supremacy order in the region especially after Burundians Aisha Niyonkuru and Abdul Shakur Kabura were bundled out.

Njogu who is the tournament third seed continued with his good run this week following a hard-fought 7-6(5),6-3 against Frenchman Maxime  Dubouch in a titanic boys singles duel.

He faces a bigger challenger in the frame of fourth seed Rostislav Galfinger of Kazakhstan who downed top seed Kabura in a three set battle that closed at 7-5,3-6,6-3.

The Kenyan player who has enjoyed consistency however had to dig in to find a way out of what seemed a messy situation. The French opponent broke his serve thrice and even went ahead to force a tie-break which Njogu wiggled off smartly.

The first set was a mighty test of resolve and character for Njogu who had a total 13 unforced errors with his challenger coming at him particularly on the net with swingers.

In the second set, Njogu deployed a baseline attack strategy plus precision shots from the net to destabilize Dubouch who had begun dropping points.

His serve points were not solid enough but he defended well against the French tour player who had intentions to stop the charge. Njogu led 3-1 after conjuring an unblemished 40-0 score against his opponent.

However a mixture of uncharacteristic errors almost cost him the set after not weighing his shots correctly. Despite his opponent winning two extra games consecutively, Njogu stood the mile to have a stab at the finals.

“I had to be at my best today against a fighter. My calculated movement especially in the second set and firm serving helped me a lot,” Njogu told People Sport.

Meanwhile in the girls draw, fast improving Sneha Kotecha had to battle hard to clinch the tie against German player Tea Lukic winning 6-2,2-6,7-6(8).Her second set was horrific and error strewn while the third set was a tie break thriller in a match that was fairly balanced at close.

In the doubles event; Albert Njogu and Ryan Randiek saw off Taras Pakharenko and Rottilio Riccardo of Kazakhstan/Italy in straight sets of 6-4,6-4 to book a finals berth this afternoon as Kenya looks for a clean sweep.

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