Kenya’s hopes in the ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour (W25) tournament now rest on Angella Okutoyi and Stacy Yego after Alicia Owegi bowed out 6-2, 6-2 against Viktoria Morvayova on the Karen Country Club clay courts on Monday.
Okutoyi (941) will play 21-year-old Swiss qualifier Sophie Luescher (651) for a place in round two. Kenyan qualifier Yego (1,360) will face Italian qualifier Matilde Mariani (580) on Tuesday.
Owegi,19, who earned a wild card to the main draw round, started the first game brightly, but could not keep the momentum, let down by both forced and unforced errors.
She had the only aces in the match (three) against the Slovak, who not only chalked up most of her points from first serves, but was also good in reception to hand the Kenyan an early exit.
“The match was good. I think I was doing the right things. I just needed to be more consistent, but I think I’m confident that I can only improve from here. I think in the next Futures it is going to be better. I’m just still trying to get used to the home courts, “admitted Owegi, who arrived on Friday from the USA where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences at Alabama University.
On her 22-year-old opponent Morvayova (516 on WTA Singles rankings), Owegi said, “She is a good player and has good rankings. I think I was able to give her a little bit of a run for her money. The results should be better if I meet herin the second tournament at the Nairobi Club (December 17-24).”
Owegi will partner Okutoyi’s twin sister, Roselida Asumwa,19, from Cowley College in the doubles at Karen.
Asumwa was bundled out by Yego,15, in the first round of the qualifying draw on Sunday. Yego got a walkover in the second round of the qualifiers against American Samantha Imbo,20, who could not secure her visa on time.
“I played really well against Asumwa in the qualifiers. I was at my best, like I played good tennis. It was a tight match, decided by a tiebreak which fortunately I won. I hope I do my best in the main draw,” said the Grade 11 home school student.
Asumwa said her season was great at Cowley where she reached the quarterfinals in singles at the Regional Championships and made it to the semifinals in doubles with partner Zuzanna Witowska.
“I was tired against Yego and lost, but I hope to do well in doubles,” said Asumwa.
Okutoyi has set a high target of clinching the crown.
“It is the first time the W25 is being held in Kenya. I’m happy that this is happening because this is a higher grade and competitive tournament compared toW15. It is a high level tournament and good players are coming from different countries to compete here,” said Okutoyi.
“It is going to give me a lot of progress, a lot of competition, which I’m really looking forward to. It is going to be a nice week and hopefully I can come out with silverware.”
Okutoyi said she was happy that both Karen Country Club and Nairobi Club, where she is a member, are hosting the W25 because it also gives her a leeway to access the gym and anything that she needs.
“In Auburn, it is a team environment, so I learned how to carry people on because you have to be like a leader every time, on and off the courts,” she observed.
Burundian Sada Nahimana (339), who is seeded second in the main draw, tossed out Frenchwoman Lucie Nguyen 6-4, 6-4 in another first round match on Monday.