Tennis: The Rise and Rise of Kenyan tennis star Angela Okutoyi

Kenya's Angela Okutoyi during W15 ITF World Tennis tour at Peponi School in Kiambu County on Wednesday Aug 7, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

In the past three decades, we have seen a new generation of stars in women’s tennis succeed on the big world stage.

From the likes of Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu to British sensation Emma Raducanu, many have risen to win a couple of Grand Slam titles.

Back home, Angela Okutoyi has risen to be a star at a young age, conquering both Kenya and Africa in International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments.

In 2018, she became the youngest player to win the Kenya Open then aged 14 after upsetting experienced three-time former champion Shufaa Changawa 6-1, 7-6 at Nairobi Club.

In the same year, she won the Africa Junior Championship on Clay Court (AJCCC) Under 14 singles held in Algeria before following up with singles and doubles triumph at the ITF East African Under 18 Junior Circuit, ITF Nairobi Junior Open and Eastern Africa Zonal Championships Under 16 in 2019.

Last year was the best of the lot for Okutoyi who was crowned the 2021 Africa Junior Champion.

Seeded second in Africa, Okutoyi swept aside top seed Aya El Aouni (126) of Morroco 6-3, 6-3 to be crowned champion in the finals played in Sousse, Tunisia in November last year.

Okutoyi also competed in J5 Sfax and J3 Megrine in Tunisia in April, two J3 Cairo tournaments and one J2 Cairo in Egypt in August, J2 Cairo in September and J3 Stellenbosch, J2 Stellenbosch and JA Cape Town in South Africa in October as well as J2 Sousse last year.

Winning the African junior title saw her reach new heights.

Angela Okutoyi play Women doubles at Karen Country Club during Karen Open Tennis Championship on Dec 14, 2017. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Ranked 60th in the latest International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior rankings announced on January 3, which is her new career-high, Okutoyi on Sunday made her debut at the Australian Junior Open Championship.

Okutoyi on Sunday had a dream debut at the Australian Junior Open Championship after serving off to victory in the main draw of the Girls Singles.

The African U18 champion floored Federica Urgesi of Italy 2-1 at the Melbourne Park to sail through to the second round.

Okutoyi who is the second Kenyan to play in the Australian Open after Paul Wekesa was off to a flying start as she bagged the first set 6-4 before surrendering in the subsequent one that ended 7-6 in favour of the Italian.

She proceeded to sweep Urgesi 6-3 in the final set to emerge victorious in a match that lasted two hours thirteen minutes.

Okutoyi will now face off against Zara Larke of Australia.

The Australian knocked out seventh-seeded Johanne Svendsen (14) from Sweden 6-4, 6-1 in the first round.

The Australian Open Junior Championships is back in 2022 after the 2021 edition was cancelled due to the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions into Australia.

The last event in 2020 saw Andorra’s Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva and France's Harold Mayot crowned champions.

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