Kenyan tennis players will be looking to excel at the 39th edition of the African Junior Championships, which gets under way on Thursday in Pretoria, South Africa. Seven players will represent the country in the annual competition which has attracted 120 players from 28 African states.
At stake is individual and team trophies in the under 14 and 16 events for both boys’ and girls’. In the 16 and under boys category, Albert Njogu and Sheil Kotecha will be hoping to get to the last eight of the tournament which has eluded them after promising displays in previous editions. Faith Nyabera and Esther Wahome will fly the flag in the girls’ category as they seek to defy all odds and return the title home.
Sneha Kotecha and Angela Nyangweso are primed for battle in the girls under 14 category while Ryan Randiek will be the sole entry in the same category for boys. Kenya habours hopes of a good showing down south after intensive training over the last few weeks under coach Caroline Oduor.
Oduor said the players who took part in the ITF /CAT tournaments hosted at the Nairobi Club in January look very competitive.
“The team selected has gone through rigorous training and having played in the tournaments in January should be able to challenge the best of the junior talent in Africa,” Oduor said, before the team left for South Africa on Monday.
Sheil and Sneha travelled ahead of the rest and had the added advantage of acclimatizing while participating in the NWU Pukke/RVTA ITF 2 Grade 5 tournament as preparations for the continental event. The duo are in the company of Coach Rosemary Owino. Countries expected for the event include Burundi, Rwanda, Sudan, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia
The players will be hoping to replicate the form that helped them win Eastern African Junior Circuit team title. Team captain Ryan Randiek believes the squad comprises of the best junior tennis players in the country vowing to fight for title.
“Our performance in previous editions has not been that good but we are up to the challenge. We have faced most of the players before and our coaches have helped us rectify the mistakes we made last year,” Randiek said on phone from South Africa.
The 2016 event will be take a new format of round robins followed by play-off draws. The tournament will run till March 18 at the High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria.