Angella Okutoyi in action. Her AJC final win against top seed Aya El Aouni from Morocco earned her 200 ranking points in 2021. [Photo/ KBC]
Angella Okutoyi in action. Her AJC final win against top seed Aya El Aouni from Morocco earned her 200 ranking points in 2021. [Photo/ KBC]

In 2021, Angella Okutoyi made history by becoming the first Kenyan tennis player to win the Africa Junior Championships (AJC) U-18 in Tunisia. She also achieved a career-high ranking, placing 60th in the world in the current International Tennis Federation (ITF) rankings for juniors.

Her AJC final win against top seed Aya El Aouni from Morocco earned her 200 ranking points. She is also the top ranked Kenyan among the juniors.

This year, she’s making some more history. Okutoyi is going for glory at the Australian Open, an opportunity she received by virtue of her exploits in Tunisia.

A combination of talent and mentality has made her a force to reckon with, and the new poster child for Kenyan tennis in a country where the sport hasn’t always made headlines.

The player landed in Melbourne on Monday, January 10. She is one of 46 girls drawn in the Australian Junior Open. The senior events at the Australian Open are currently ongoing and will run until January 30.

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Okutoyi will be taking part in two tournaments in Australia – the J1 Traralgon between January 14-19 and the Australian Junior Open from January 22-29.

She is keen on putting up an impressive performance in Australia and has set herself the target of moving into the Top 30 in the ITF junior rankings.

“I have practised for two weeks after breaking for Christmas. My preparations have been good. I have been training on the hard courts more because that is the surface we will use in Australia.”

“I’ve realized that, the level I am in doesn’t allow my mindset to think like a junior, I play with parents, experienced players and that means I have to put double the effort for my hard work to bear fruits. I’m aiming for a top 30 bracket and I believe I’ll achieve it,” she told journalists.

2021 was a big year for Okutoyi’s development. She surpassed the target she had set for herself of entering the ITF rankings Top 100.

Prior to the AJC win, Okutoyi won two J4 tournaments in Nairobi pushing her up 59 places in the rankings in January 2021. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the talent. In October 2021, she lost in the Semi-final of the J3 Stellenbosch Curro Tennis Junior Series in South Africa.

She’s taken part in several tournaments – the latest being the ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour in Monastir, Tunisia on December 6. Others include the J5 Sfax and J3 Megrine in Tunisia in April 2021, two J3 Cairo tournaments and a J2 Cairo tournament in Egypt in August and a J2 Cairo event in September.

Overall, she has a 78% win rate with 28 wins and 10 losses in her juniors career so far. Kenyans will be rallying behind her as she looks to shine in Australia.

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