Kenya’s Albert Njogu and Angela Okutoyi rallied to stun top seeded players in thrilling finals to lift the boys’ and girls’ ITF World Tennis Tour Nairobi Junior Open titles at the Nairobi Club on Saturday.
Second seeded Njogu confirmed his dominance over Abdoul Shakur Kabura from Burundi when he beat him for the second consecutive time in the final in straight sets of 7-5, 6-1.
Okutoyi, also seeded second, had her act together this time round as she rallied from one set down to stun top seeded Aisha Niyonkuru from Burundi 6-4, 6-3 and 6-2.
The hard-serving Kabura broke Njogu’s serve to stretch his lead to 5-2 but the Kenyan, who had beaten Kabura for the first time ever last week 6-0, 6-4 to clinch the first leg of the Tour, turned on the style to serve and win the next game and bring the score at 5-3.
From there on, Njogu exhibited great patience and confidence with cracking strikes to break Kabura’s serve and zero in at 5-4 before serving to level at 5-5.
Njogu then took the lead 6-5 after breaking Kabura’s serve again and served for the game set for a 40-0 before finishing off with an ace to win 7-5.
Njogu was in sublime form to storm to the lead in the second set and break Kabura’s serve twice to lead 3-0 before the player from Burundian hit back to win the next game to bring the score at 3-1. Njogu stood firm to brave a poor first serve to win the next three games.
“Good training that comprises al lot of fitness work has done the trick for me,” said Njogu. “I have been patient and my confidence has been growing unlike before. It feels good beating Kabura for the second consecutive time.”
“I was in a hurry to finish off the games and ended up committing many unforced errors," said Kabura. “But I give it up to Njogu, who has tremendously improved."
Njogu had stopped sixth seeded Assil Moussayri Morocco 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 while Kabura edged out Luca Emmanuel Knese of Germany 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 to set up the second consecutive meeting in the final.
Okutoyi, the reigning Kenya Open champion, fell back 6-4 after Niyonkuru put her to the sword with punishing runs and good serves.
“Niyonkuru was more aggressive. I had a bad first serve and committed many errors,” said Okutoyi, who improved greatly especially her first serve that pinned Niyonkuru on her backhand. “I attacked her first move which gave me a good cushion to win the next sets 6-3, 6-2.”