Kenya’s tennis prodigy Angela Okutoyi’s fairytale run at the Africa Cup of Nations in Botswana ended in agonising pain on Thursday in the final after she lost in straight sets to top seeded home player Bechri Chiraz.
The 14-year-old Okutoyi, who is the Britam Kenya Open champion, went down to Chiraz 6-1, 6-3 to settle for silver.
Okutoyi, who is also the Africa Under-14 girls’ champion, is now first Kenyan to reach the final either in men or women’s category of the Africa Cup of Nations.
“This is the best results ever by any Kenyan and this is commendable for the youngster,” said tennis Kenya vice president Francis Mutuku.
The history-making Okutoyi, also the ITF Africa Under-14 champion, had outclassed El Jardi Diae of Morocco 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-5 in the semi-finals.
Another Kenyan Ismael Changawa exited in the semi-finals of the men’s contest, losing to Sibanda Mehluli of Zimbabwe 6-2, 6-1. It was also the first time a Kenyan man had reached the semi-finals of the continental event.
Changawa zoomed past Zambian Kombe Mabo (6-2, 6-2) in the second round before stunning Morocco's third seed Amine Ahouda 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the quarters.
Another Kenyan Ibrahim Kibet had failed to go past the quarterfinals, losing to top seeded Moroccan Fattar Anas 6-3, 6-4.
Kibet, who is the reigning Britam Kenya Open champion, had edged out former Kenya Open winner Edgar Kazembe in the second round.
Kibet teamed up with Changawa and settled for silver after they lost 6-3, 7-6(5) to the Moroccan pair of Ahouda/Fattar in men’s doubles final.
Partnering with Celestine Avomo of Gabon, Okutoyi lost to top seeded Chiraz/Ferdaous Bahri from Tunisia 4-6, 6-4, 6-10 in the women’s doubles final.