Despite being knocked out of US Open Junior Championships on Thursday, Angella Okutoyi had done enough to impress over 30 colleges who have offered her full scholarship opportunities.
Okutoyi and her partner Rose Marie Nijkamp lost in the girls’ doubles match in the second round 7-6, 6-3 against Americans Natalie Black and Piper Charney on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows in New York, USA on Thursday.
They had defeated fifth-seeds Qavia Lopez (USA)/Christine Svendsen (Denmark) 6-1, 6-3 in the first round.
The 2018 Kenya Open champion Okutoyi suffered a second round exit in singles against eighth-seeded Australian Taylah Preston 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 after having dispatched German Carolina Kuhl 7-6, 7-5 in the first round.
“Today (September 9), we embark on a tour of colleges. Over 30 college coaches have offered Angie full scholarships to play in their teams. She will be visiting five of them to see if they are a good fit for her future,” Tennis Kenya Secretary General Wanjiru Mbugua-Karani told Nation Sport on Friday.
Okutoyi has shown great promise since she was young, including beating 14-year-olds when she was 12.
On the list of titles that Okutoyi has won since 2018 are Kigali Junior International Open (2018) and two J5 Nairobi tournaments in 2019. She also won two J4 Nairobi tournaments in January 2021 and Africa Under-18 in November 2021 when she broke into the top-100 players in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior Rankings.
She has continued to impress, including becoming the first Kenyan girl to win a Grand Slam match during the Australian Open juniors in Melbourne in January this year when she reached the third round after defeating Italian Federica Urgesi and Australian Zara Larke before being stopped by Serbian Lola Radivojevic.
She went on to compete at the Roland Garros in France where she swept aside Amelie Van Impe in the first round and then lost to Croatian Petra Marcinko in the second round.
In July, Okutoyi made history after becoming the first Kenyan to win a Grand Slam title during the Wimbledon doubles juniors where she teamed up with Nijkamp.
This saw her awarded memberships by Nairobi Club and Karen Country Club as well as named the LG/SJAK Sports personality of the month of July.
She arrived at the US Open juniors on September 4 having bagged the J1 Repentigny doubles crown pairing with Poland’s Malwina Rowinska in Canada.
The US Open was Okutoyi’s last Grand Slam as a junior.
Okutoyi, who turned 18 on January 29 this year, was supported by Grand Slam Player Development Programme (GSPDP). The year you turn 18 is your last year as a junior, so colleges coming in to give her scholarship is timely and will save her from a lot of struggles.