Tennis: Kenyans victorious as ITF World Tour kicks off
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Women’s Tour commenced yesterday at the Peponi School in Ruiru with Kenyan duo Faith Nyabera and Judith Nkatha progressing to the second round after winning their respective ties.
Nyabera, who was the first Kenyan to take to the courts, survived a second set scare from India’s Vibhbasree Gowda to prevail after the Indian had rallied from one set down to send the match to a tie-breaker.
Braving the scorching sun at the Peponi courts, the 19-year-old Nyabera claimed the first set with a convincing 6-1 win before she went down 3-6 in the second set, taking the match to the tie-breaker where she emerged victorious 6-3.
“I really enjoyed the opening set as compared to the other two. I managed to put my opponent in an uncomfortable situation, forcing her into errors and that helped me win it quite comfortably,” said Nyabera, whose victory against Vibhasree earned her one point in the World Tennis Association rankings.
She consequently became the first Kenyan to claim a win at the two-week showpiece after her compatriots Shania Gandhia, Roselida Asumwa and Alicia Owegi fell by the wayside in the qualifiers on Monday, even before the tournament proper kicked off.
Gandhia was unfortunate after being dealt a late injury blow while Asumwa was overpowered by Deeksah Prasad in straight sets of 6-0, 6-1.
“It’s really a good feeling to be the first Kenyan to play in the main draw and get a win. I hope my victory opens doors for my colleagues who will play later,” a visibly elated Nyabera said.
And her wish was granted as her compatriot Nkatha, who took to the court immediately after her, came from behind to dismiss Maria Nyonda of Gabon. Nkatha started the duel on a slow note, going down to the Gabonese 5-7 before she recovered to win the second set 6-2 and 6-3 in the tiebreaker.
Kenya coach Peter Wachira lauded her charges’ display while saying they have nothing to lose since they are using the tournament to prepare for the African Games slated for Morocco.
“ We are just using this tournament to see how well we can play and how far we can go,” he said.
Other Kenyans Angela Okutoyi and Fatiya Shariff will be in action today when they take on Demi Tran of Netherlands and Brazilian Galvao Borges.
Angela Okutoyi (Kenya) v Demi Tran (Netherlands)
Galvao Borges (Brazil) v Fatiya Shariff (Kenya)
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