Tennis Kenya today celebrates Angela Okutoyi as the first Kenyan woman to play and win a junior grand slam match at the Australian Open tournament.
In 2018 at the age of 14 Okutoyi won the Prestigious Kenya Open award and in the same year she went to the USA where she participated in one of the biggest tournaments of 14 and under and finally came out with two wins of 18 and under.
Speaking to the press at The Nairobi Club on Tuesday, Okutoyi said that her experience in the Australian Open tournament was good and she learnt that people have a strong mentality when playing, adding that her inspiration comes from her grandmother and Serena Williams.
She added that she expects to break her own record and perform well in the upcoming tournaments.
Tennis Kenya (TK) President James Kenani stated that the unique thing about tennis is that it teaches you about honesty where, when the player calls the line out, the opponent agrees it is a point.
He cited that the High Performance Training Centre sponsored by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Government of Kenya through programs like life skills has brought about dramatic changes in the sport as well as in the players.
Moreover, he mentioned that Angela Okutoyi has benefitted from such programs.
He stated that TK expectation is that Okutoyi will become a role model for those upcoming younger players and that she will maintain the spirit of fighting back during tournaments.
Kenani revealed that a sports fund has been set up and appealed to the stakeholders to support them.
“The gaps cannot be filled without resources. With support all is not lost as we can produce our world class players,” said Kenani.
The Chairman of TK Coaches Commission, Francis Rogoi, highlighted that Okutoyi’s journey to becoming a champion started at Bujumbura in Burundi.
He continued to say that he, together with other stakeholders held a critical meeting with the development officer and the director of the center to convince ITF that Okutoyi is a promising tennis player and therefore Angela joined the training center in Burundi.
“If there could be a way to change our surface we have a big opportunity to produce more people like Okutoyi,” he added.
Former professional tennis player Paul Wekesa encouraged Okutoyi to keep the work ethic and continue working hard. He appealed to the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage to offer support to Okutoyi and other players in terms of training with the best players in the world.
By Mary Wangari and Manu Mumba