Kenya’s tennis queen Angela Okutoyi will travel to South Africa on Wednesday to continue looking for a top 100 place in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Tennis Tour junior ranking.
She will take part in three tournaments, namely J3 Stellenbosch (October 11-15), J2 Stellenbosch (October 18-22) and JA Cape Town (October 25-30).
These tournaments could determine if she gets close to her top 100 target before the end of the year.
The 17-year-old dropped one place to 158 in the current ranking on Monday. Her career high ranking of 127 came after winning 10 straight games in two J4 tournaments in Nairobi in January.
“I fell back a little from my career high ranking because I didn’t play tournaments in March and April. I’m glad I got the chance to do so in Egypt (between August 16 and September 3) which, in my opinion, has helped me push my ranking up to 158, “said Okutoyi during her penultimate training session on Monday at the Nairobi Club.
Right-handed Okutoyi started 2021 in 186th place, rose 59 places after her triumph in Nairobi, before falling from 127th to 198th place due to a lack of tournaments.
Okutoyi returned to the top 160 after some great performances in Egypt in August. She reached the quarter-finals in J3 Cairo (August 16-20), the semi-finals in J3 Cairo (August 23-27) and the quarter-finals in J2 Cairo (August 30-3 September).
“The Egypt experience was pretty good. We all know how tough opponents and tournaments from North Africa are. They weren’t easy. I’m glad I got to play a few competitive games. Every opponent I met was good competition I “I’m glad I learned something positive from Egypt and got some good points. I think I didn’t have an easy game in Egypt, but I made some games easier for myself. My toughest game was in the second tournament against Jermine Sherif from Egypt, which I won (6-4, 6-3).
Okutoyi found she didn’t travel much in March and April because of the coronavirus.
“It was also difficult to get visas. My ranking went down. I’m ready to do my best in South Africa,” she said.
The teenager still has ambitions to participate in grand slams.
“I think my dream can be achieved. What I need most is to be financially supported. It’s not that I don’t get support, but it’s not enough. With support, anything is possible. My dream is to be with to play a Grand Slam, next year I will play the four big Grand Slams (Australia, France, Great Britain and the USA).
With 158 in the ITF junior ranking, Okutoyi is the only Kenyan player in the top 1,500 on the 3,000 player list.
Alicia Owegi ranks second in the world at 1,512 in Kenya after losing 21 spots in the latest ranking.
Okutoyi’s twin sister Roselida Asumwa ranks third in the country after 13 places and 1,590 worldwide.
“The good thing about being in the top 100 is to set an example for those who don’t rank well and to motivate them to do great things too. We want to see more Kenyans in the top 100, we don’t only one.” or two.”
To keep her dream of grand slams alive, Okutoyi’s coach Francis Rogoi has to finish the year in the top 100. “She prepared well in Nairobi for three weeks. She’s going to South Africa for Grade 3, 2 and A tournaments, which are more of a Grand Slam event. Okutoyi has trained on the hard courts for between five and six hours a day . ” which she will play on in South Africa.
“The future looks very positive for her. In South Africa she will even try to see if she can make it into the main draw of the upcoming Mexico and USA tournaments later this year. If she is in South Africa, the USA and Mexico does well. ” , I think your dream of playing in a major grand slam is coming true. She has to reach the semi-finals of these tournaments in order to get into the top 100 before the end of the year. That will guarantee her a promising year 2022, “said Rogoi.
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Okutoyi, the 2018 Kenya Open winner, will complete her preparations in Nairobi on Tuesday. The ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors is aimed at players under the age of 18. It gives them the opportunity to travel the world and develop their talent.
According to the ITF, it offers over 650 tournaments in 140 countries. “On the Tour, players compete at six tournament levels – from YES (including the Junior Grand Slams) to J1, J2, J3, J4 and J5 (the lowest level). The ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors provides a launch pad for the best players to move on and succeed in professional play. “