By OSCAR PILIPILI
After competing under extremely humid conditions in Mombasa, tennis players are experiencing yet another harsh weather with rains affecting Kenya International Junior Championship at Nairobi Club.
Heavy rain that pounded Nairobi on Sunday night flooded courts forcing organisers to delay the programme with first round matches starting at noon.
It was not a good start for Kenyan boys after Derrick Onyancha, who is seeded 1,013 internationally, lost 3-6, 4-6 against German Lucas Poelman in a round one match.
The exit of Onyancha who is one of the top ranked Kenyans leaves just two local boys, third-seeded Gabriel Teja and and Ishmael Changawa still in the main draw.
Teja and Changawa all entered the main draw on wild cards.
Derrick Onyancha returns a shot against Lucas Poelman of Germany. [PHOTOS: GOVEDI ASUTSA/STANDARD]
In the girls’ category fourth seed Nikita Dawda and sixth seed Michelle Onyancha are the only seeded Kenyans.
Four other home players, namely, Katrina Karanja, Ivy Rahedi, Torel Sedani and Gloria Rotich gained entry to the main draw via wild cards after they all lost in the qualification rounds.
Dawda plays her first match against Beatrice Lambardo of Italy, Onyancha faces Maya Mametguliyeva of Turkey, Karanja clashes with French girl Sarah Finch, while Rahedi entertains Alexandra Kazanova of Russia in round one encounters.
Patrick Kamuhia, who is the tournament’s referee said some matches have been moved to Public Service Club to ease a possible gridlock of matches.
He said: "We have one eye on (the impending) rain and some of the matches will be played at Public Service Club to be able to complete with our programme."
"Visiting players have an upper hand over Kenyans but the three tournaments will help offer the locals good international exposure," said Kamuhia who is an International Tennis Federation bronze badge referee.
The tournament that has attracted 69 boys and 41 girls is sponsored by New Kenya Co-Operative Creameries who are in tennis for the first time.
The players are from Russia, Portugal, Great Britain, Austria, Burundi, Egypt, Rwanda, South Africa, India, Russia and Cyprus among other states. The competition is sponsored by International Tennis Federation and organised by the local body, KLTA.
This is the first time in the Kenyan tennis history that three international tennis-ranking events have been organised to run consecutively.
This provides Kenyan players seeking international ranking points with the opportunity to improve on their world ranking at minimal costs.
The event started with the first leg that ended in Mombasa last Saturday and the final round will be staged at Parklands Sports Club from February 21-27.