After her historic exploits at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Botswana, Kenya’s tennis prodigy Angela Okutoyi has now turned her sights on two high-profiled junior tennis tournaments in Florida, United States.
Okutoyi’s fairy-tale run ended when she lost to top seed home player Bechri Chiraz in straight sets of 6-1, 6-3 in women’s final of the Africa Cup of Nations on Thursday.
The 14-year-old Okutoyi, who is the Britam Kenya Open champion, is the first Kenyan to ever reach the final either in men or women’s category at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Okutoyi, the Africa Under-14 girls’ champion, leaves the country on November 19 for a fully sponsored tour by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Grand Slam Development Fund to Florida.
Okutoyi will attend a camp from November 22-25 before taking part in Eddie Herr International Championships from November 26 to December 2 at IMG Academy, Bradenton.
Okutoyi will attend another camp on December 3-11 before participating in Junior Orange Bowl at Coral Gables, Florida.
In Botswana, the history-making Okutoyi had outclassed El Jardi Diae of Morocco 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-5 in the semi-finals.
“This is a great feeling and humbling experience to win and especially becoming the first Kenyan to reach that stage,” said Okutoyi. ''It wasn’t easy at the beginning but thank God I reached the final.”
Okutoyi’s compatriot 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 quarter-finals, losing to top seed 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 seeds Chiraz/Ferdaous Bahri from Tunisia 4-6, 6-4, 6-10 in the women’s doubles final.
The results saw Kenya finish in top four to proceed to the Team Championships alongside Gabon, Morocco and Tunisia.