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Wake up call for local tennis as ITF series end in Nairobi

Barry Silah @obel_barry

Following Kenya’s dismal performances at the ITF Junior Championships series, concerns are being raised on an improvement plan.

Indeed the three-week tournament held at Nairobi Club was a true test of resolve for the local players but evidently they could not hold their own.

Kenya’s top seeded players Angela Okutoyi and Albert Njogu rode their luck but fell off the chase with the latter painfully losing back to back finales against Peter Sallay of Netherlands and Abdoul Shakur Kabura of Burundi.

The 17-year-old Njogu might just see his chances of improving his rankings diminish since he vacates the juniors’ class next year.

His rivalry with Kabura over the past few years has been phenomenal even as the Burundian, based at Nairobi’s ITF East Africa Centre leads him 5-1 on a head to head record. Njogu’s development over time has, however, been hailed as impressive.

Okutoyi’s age and frailty has been blamed for her poor run in this just-ended Championship following only one penultimate finish.

The current African Junior Championships titleholder and defending Kenya Open ladies champion is only 14 years old but is being highly tipped by pundits as the future of tennis in the country.

Last season, she played at least 20 tournaments across the globe which might have contributed to her loss of sharpness.

Regular challenger Sneha Kotecha was missing out because of shoulder injury thus also having a big impact with the girls’ showing.

According to coach George Rogoi, the tournament was a good enough stead for the young players to develop their skills and confidence ahead of a busy calendar schedule.

“I think overall our players gave a good account of themselves and they ought to be proud. What needs to happen going forward is building consistency and brushing up on loose areas. I feel players like Derrick Ominde are improving well and Angela is also learning to be better.”

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