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Okutoyi becomes first ever Kenyan woman to win ITF title

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Angela Okutoyi during a past tournament. PHOTO/ITF
  • Okutoyi won the W15 tournament in Tunisia
  • She is only the second Kenyan to win it and the first woman
  • She now hopes to qualify for the Olympics

Angela Okutoyi has made history by becoming the first ever Kenyan woman and the second overall to win an ITF (International Tennis Federation) after she clinched the main title at the ITF W15 Monastir on Sunday.

Okutoyi, who was a wild card for the tournament, posted five singles victories to claim the title.

“Well, it only took 29 years, but a Kenyan has won another professional tournament! This means everything to me because I’ve come so far. Seeing that I am changing this sport in my country is massive for me. Winning the W15 in Monastir will open doors for me as well as show young kids in Kenya and Africa that we can all achieve what we put our minds to, I have proven that,” Okutoyi said after the win.

Okutoyi joins Paul Wekesa, who won the Andorra Challenger in 1994, as the only other Kenyan to win a singles event on the ITF World Tennis Tour.

She beat American Isabella Harvison in the final by straight sets to clinch the title.

Enroute to the final, Okutoyi who schools at the Auburn University in the USA defeated Helena Buchwald of Germany, Yasmine Mansouri of France, Anastasia Abbagnato of Italy, and Zeel Desai of India.

Largest upset 

Angela Okutoyi during a past tournament. PHOTO/ITF

Her largest upset of the event occurred in the first round with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Buchwald, who holds an ITF singles ranking of 59th. Of the five matches, Okutoyi only required a third set in her match against Abbagnato.

Okutoyi’s story is extremely powerful and one that ought to be told as often as possible, particularly as she continues to advance along the player pathway and make a nation – and indeed continent – extremely proud.

After all, the teenager and her twin sister, Roselida Asumwa, were raised by their grandmother, Mary, after their mother tragically died while giving birth to them in 2004. As an extract from Okutoyi’s interview from the spring 2022 edition of ITFWorld suggests, life was tough.

“My mum passed away giving birth to me and my twin sister and ever since I have lived with my grandmother, who is a single mum,” said Okutoyi.

“It was really hard. At that time also, her daughter was sick and had problems with her lungs which required oxygen. She had to use all her money to take care of her daughter and at times worked many jobs.

Children laugh at us 

Angela Okutoyi during a past tournament. PHOTO/ITF

“We started with nothing. Other children would laugh at us and call us names. We became the joke, but we kept our heads down and did our fighting on court.

“When I started playing tennis, it was hard and I remember there were times I would play and wouldn’t have eaten the whole of that day. I slept hungry for consecutive nights, with water the only thing I’d have all day.

“I come from a very humble background, and it was really tough for my grandmother, but she kept going, was really strong and was always supportive. I take my courage and strength from her.”

-Additional information from ITF

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