Tennis Kenya names strong squad for Billie Jean King Cup

From left-Kenya's Alicia Owegi, Angella Okutoyi, Cynthia Cheruto, Roselida Asumwa, Stacy Yego, Melissa Mwaka and coach Francis Rogoi pose for a group photo at Nairobi Club. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Tennis Kenya has selected a strong squad of six players to represent the country in the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Africa Group III tournament at the Nairobi Club starting Monday next week.

The squad will be headlined by Wimbledon junior doubles champion Angella Okutoyi who has jetted in from her base in the United States.

Her sister Roselida Asumwa and Alicia Owegi, who have also sharpened their claws in America, are also very much ready for the showpiece.

Cynthia Cheruto, who is also fresh from winning an ITF tournament at Parklands Sports Club in Nairobi, will be another wonder to watch in the global challenge.

On the reserve list is 15 year old Stacy Yego, who has shown great potential in the game, and sensational Melissa Mwakha, who undoubtedly has the potential to give the international opponents a run for their money should she get the chance.

"It's an honour and privilege to be part of the Kenya tennis team, I can't wait to raise the Kenyan flag high," Owegi told Standard Sports.

Team captain Francis Rogoi said the players were selected based on key criteria among them their ability to battle on clay- a challenge looming ahead on the upgraded Nairobi Club courts.

He is glad that most have had stints playing on clay in their exposures while abroad.

"I'm urging Kenyans to turn up in large numbers to watch the players in this competition," Rogoi said.
Tournament Director Wanjiru Karani said Tennis Kenya is most excited to host the prestigious event which is also putting the country on the global map as a top sports tourism destination.

"Team preparations are going on well. Tennis Kenya has brought in the players who are based in the US. They have been training daily under the watchful eye of their captain Rogoi. They are currently in residential training at Nairobi Club," Karani said.

"The venue and logistics are all on course and teams and officials will begin arriving on Thursday starting with some players who are currently taking part in the Roland Garros French Open Junior event," she stated.

Morocco is expected to jet in tomorrow while Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Seychelles will land on Friday.

"We expect Botswana, Ghana, Namibia, Tunisia and Uganda on Saturday while Burundi will arrive on Sunday," said Karani.

"Our motivation to host this event was to celebrate the Kenya Women’s tennis team, they are so disciplined, work so hard, they put in countless hours in training, touring for competition while at the same time being good students, responsible daughters and siblings, loving friends and being typical teenagers on Tik-tok and going to concerts," Karani said.

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