Tennis: Okutoyi wins Sports Personality for the Month of July

Tennis
Kenya’s rising Tennis star Angela Okutoyi looks on before being awarded the LG SJAK sports personality of the month at Nairobi Club on August 18, 2022. (Kelly Ayodi, Standard)

Kenyan tennis sensation Angella Okutoyi is the LG/SJAK Sports Personality of the month of July.

Eighteen-year-old Okutoyi achieved the feat of becoming the first-ever Kenyan Grand Slam winner when she won the Wimbledon Open Doubles Junior Championship on July 9 in England.

Okutoyi and her partner Rose Marie Nijkamp from the Netherlands vanquished  Canadian duo of Kayla Cross and Victoria Mboko 2-1 (3-6, 6-4, 11-9) in the Junior doubles' final on the grass courts of All England Lawn Tennis Club.

She became the first sportsperson to win the LG Sports sponsored award twice this year and three times overall since the inception of the award, following her success in January when she reached the third round at the Australian Open Juniors thus becoming the first Kenyan to win a girls’ junior singles Grand Slam match and another award held in January 2021.

Her Wimbledon triumph was a brilliant display of mental strength since she had exited the Singles category at the Junior Championships at Wimbledon in the first round. However, she picked herself up to claim the doubles title alongside her Dutch teammate Nijkamp.

Okutoyi and Nijkamp stunned third-seeds Lucija Ciric Bagaric (Croatia)/Nikola Daubnerova (Slovakia) 2-0 (6-3, 6-4) in the semi-finals and started the final on wrong footing as they lost the first set 6-3. However, they recovered in the second set, winning it 6-4 and never looked back.

They wrapped up the famous win with an 11-9 victory in the tiebreaker against the fourth-seeded Canadians.

To win the monthly trophy, Okutoyi beat several other nominees including Africa 100m champion Ferdinand Omanyala who was eliminated in the semis of the World Championships in Oregon, Faith Kipyegon who reclaimed her world 1,500m title in Oregon and Emmanuel Korir who added the world 800m title to his Olympic title over the same distance.

Other nominees were rugby star Dennis Abukuse -instrumental in Menengai Oilers' inaugural National Sevens Circuit victory, Helen Wawira who bagged gold at the 2022 World Para Powerlifting  American Open Championship and Winnie Kaburo  Muthoni who won the Africa Youth Chess Championship  under-8 title in Lusaka, Zambia.

In winning the July award, Okutoyi received a trophy engraved to her name and an LG Nano cell TV worth 120k.

Okutoyi was all smiles and here is what she had to say: "I am truly honoured to win this award for the second time in a year and I wish to thank my partnerNijkamp  for her resilience through our campaign."

"Being nominated

alongside Kenya's long and middle-distance runners and beating them is no mean achievement. A grand slam win has always been my dream, Now it's no longer a dream but a reality,” said the emotional Angela.

Other LG awards winners this year include junior WRC3 contender McRae Kimathi (February), Japan’s Nagoya Marathon winner Ruth Chepng’etich (March), Boston Marathon men’s winner Evans Chebet (April), national women's volleyball team star Sharon Chepchumba (May) and WRC3 Safari Rally winner Maxine Wahome (June).

During the function, SJAK President  Chris Mbaisi thanked LG Electronics for their continued support towards the development of sport in the country by whipping up the enthusiasm of Kenyan athletes across the board.

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