Junior players survive qualifiers to main draw

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Aug 17, 2021
  • Shufaa Changawa begins her title defence at the Britam Kenya Open against Juliet Cherono. Four junior players qualified for the main event. (SNA: File Photo)

Four of the eight available slots into the main draw of the men's Britam Kenya Open Tennis championships were scooped by Kenyan Junior players.

They battled their way to the main draw for the event proper which starts today at Nairobi Club.

Because of a political unrest in Burundi where he trains at the ITF Centre in Bujumbura, Ryan Randiek is back home and has a chance to put his training to test at the Kenya Open. He honed his skills in the Kenya Open junior tournament last week and has qualified for the main event where he will battle it out with older and experienced players.

He qualified by beating a hard serving Benson Mugo who was seeded seven places above the soft spoken 13 year old. “…I enjoy making it difficult for senior players, even if they do beat me but thankfully today I qualified.” said an overjoyed Randiek on his win against Mugo.

True to his word he made it more than difficult for Mugo matching every booming service game from his older opponent with a hold of his own in the first set. With no breaks of serve, the set went into a tie break which saw uncharacteristic errors from Randiek, to hand the set to Mugo with a 7-3 tie break score.

Difficult enough one would think but Randiek had bigger plans than make it ‘difficult’, he was in it for the win. A slow start from Mugo in the second set and with Randiek raising his consistency saw him win it for the loss of only two games.

“In the first set I thought I would move further back to try and handle his serve which didn’t seem to work so I decided to move in and get the ball on the rise which seemed to pay off,” remarked Randiek after the match.

Randiek claimed the third set

He went on to claim the third set losing only another two games to Mugo. A score of 6-7(3) 6-2, 6-2 sent Randiek into the main draw where his reward will be a first round tie against fellow qualifier Masaaki Nakamura of Japan who powered past home-boy Maxi Kipkoech in their final round of qualifying.

It was double pleasure for the Randiek clan as Ryan’s older brother Randall also made it to the main draw to join the other junior entrants, Robert Nzuki and Keean Shah. Nzuki came through a topsy-turvy first set which he lost 4-6 against Lefteris Ngugi to win the next two and the match in routine fashion for the lost of a solitary game.

In his own admission Keean Shah came through a deceptively simple looking score line of 6-2 6-2 against Raymond Kipruto. Asked if it was as easy as it looked a simple “No,” was his response.

The axe has however fallen on the young man, he has drawn second seed Edgar Kazembe as a welcome into the big league. First round matches kick off at Nairobi Club on Monday from 9 a.m.

Top seed Ismael Changawa Mzai will do battle with Burundi’s Omar Mohamed. Other seeds in action are David Oringa (3) who plays Ronny Ndinya, Tanzania’s Omary Abdalla (4) plays Naftali Ngatia, Ibrahim Yego (KEN) seeded five plays Uganda’s Frank Tayebwa.

The women's singles starts with Shufaa Changawa seeking to defend her title by facing Juliet Cherono. Other former champions in action include Caroline Oduor and Evelyn Otula with the young crop not too far behind led by the Britam Junior Open Champion Stephanie Mbaya.

It promises to be a cracker of a week.

By James Rogoi KLTA Communications