Kenya’s Angela Okutoyi on Wednesday claimed a major upset when she stunned Demi Tran from the Netherlands in straight sets to reach the second round of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Women’s World Tennis Tour at Peponi School, Ruiru.
Okutoyi, 15, withstood the first set gremlins to beat Tran, 19, who is ranked 802 in the world, 7-5, 6-1 to advance, but compatriot Fatiya Sharrif fell on the way, losing to Brazil’s Mariana Borges 6-1, 6-0 in her first round clash.
Okutoyi will now face eighth-seeded Sada Nahimana from Burundi in the second round on Thursday. Nahimana, who is ranked 596 in the world, had to dig deep in the second set to silence Brazilian Konishi Camargo Silva 6-3, 7-6(4) in the first round on Wednesday.
Okutoyi was elated with her performance by virtue of taking part in the tournament for the first time.
“I didn’t know what to expect from my opponent since I had never seen her play before. This victory has given me motivation to win the next one and maintain my position” said Okutoyi.
“It was about training well and put in my best for the victory.”
The match was characterised by Okutoyi’s strong forehand which worked in her favour to throw off Tran in most cases.
“Tran had a strong back hand, which she used effectively to gain points but I had to contain her,” said Okutoyi.
Team Kenya head coach Peter Wachira noted that Okutoyi’s training and mental preparation boosted her performance. “I wasn’t worried even for a second, I knew Okutoyi would eventually triumph,” said coach Wachira.
Okutoyi became the third Kenyan to reach the second round of the championship after Judith Nkatha and Faith Nyabera sliced their opponents on Tuesday.
Nkatha beat Maria Lisa Nyonda from Gabon 5-7,6-2, 6-3, while Nyabera battled to overcome Gowda Vibharsee of India 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, giving Kenya a good head start.
Nkatha, 20, will meet fourth seeded Lexie Stevens from the Netherlands, while Nyabera, 19, will meet Serbian Nevena Sokovic in the second round.
Stevens edged out Indian’s Prasad Manju 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday, while Sokovic, who is ranked 989 in the world upset third seed Snehal Mane (854) from India 6-4, 2-6 and 6-0 on Tuesday.
Celestine Avomo Ella from Gabon (688) led 6-4 in the first set, before her opponent second seeded Fiona Codino (766) from France was forced to retire while trailing 3-0 in the second set.
That saw Avomo claim the victory to advance to the second round, where she is due to tackle the winner between Russian Alija Merdeeva (1512) and Diana Maria Mihail (Romania-1212).
Fifth seeded Tiffany William from Britain beat India’s Sathwika Sama 6-2, 6-4 and will face Safriaka Radilofe from France in the second round. Radilofe beat Naditra Rajmohan from India 6-4, 6-3 to advance.