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Owegi saves day as Kenyans struggle in ITF junior event

Barry Silah @obel_barry

Alicia Owegi starred in the opening round of the ITF East Africa Junior Circuit Under 18 Championships after downing Ukrainian Eva Baziv by 6-2, 6-4 at Nairobi Club yesterday.

The 14-year-old showed great character on the court as she used aggression to get her points. Her serve was impeccable especially in the opening set while her defence held steady.

She dropped only two games in a marathon set that saw her falter only twice off a return serve. Baziv was erratic with her forehand, handing the Kenyan an advantage.

In the second set, the Ukrainian came alive with some big hits and good movement on the court even as some mild rain threatened to derail the occasion.

Baziv twice broke her opponent’s serve and led 4-2 before Owegi stepped up. Her sheer grit and shot selection earned her plaudits as she overcame a mental challenge to stay alive in the tournament. Her backhand winners at the point proved key even as she overhauled the scores in breathtaking fashion.

Meanwhile, there were several unseeded Kenyan casualties as the second leg of the ITF Juniors event took place yesterday. In the boys’ corner, Brandon Sagala and Mwendwa Mutuku were no match for their opponents who handed them humiliating defeats.

Sagala got beat by the first leg losing semi-finalist Damien Laporte of Seychelles in straight sets of 6-0, 6-0 while compatriot Mutuku saw dust, going down 6-0, 6-1 against high-flying Italian Giussepe Bonaiuti.

The biggest casualty in the boys’ singles, based on rankings, was Derrick Ominde who endured a frustrating run against Estonian Oskar Irdojia, losing in straight sets of 6-2, 6-4.

In the girls’ corner, Roselida Asumwa and Claire Muthoni also struggled as they faltered against Belgian and Mauritanian opponents.

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