Osogo 'beats' Otula through student

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Jul 16, 2021
  • Faiz Khan who had a bad start in the trials has bounced back and beat Ronny Ndinya on Tuesday as the trials entered the second day at Nairobi Club. (Photo by Shutterspeed).

  • Evelyne Otula was upset by 17-year old Judy Nkatha at the center court in a match which was continued after being stopped because of bad light. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

When Veronica Osogo took up the courts for the first time in 2000, Judy Nkatha was only two years old in the Kibera Slums.

Osogo went on to become one of the top women players in Kenya winning many accolades. But one win that eluded him through her tennis career was against Evelyn Otula.

Years later, Osogo took up coaching and this lead her to the Kibera slums where she bumped into young Judy Nkatha. She enrolled the young girl into her academy, Zion Zone Tennis Foundation.

Within a short time, Nkatha emerged as Kenya’s top junior player and is currently placed second behind Stephanie Mbaya. Last year she was the top ranked player in the under-16 category.

This ranking earned her a place in the Africa Junior Championships in Gaborone, Botswana. Her performance earned her a slot in the Tennis Kenya trial for this year’s All Africa Games and as fate would have it, Nkatha came up against her coachs’ biggest challenger, Evelyn Otula.

The two met at the Nairobi Club’s center court in a three set thriller where Nkatha achieved what her coach had not done in her whole tennis career spanning over 14 years beating Otula 6-4, 5-7, 6-0 in a match was continued on Wednesday after bad light forced it to be stopped after the second set.

Walked out of the match

The match was so tense that Osogo walked out of the match in the first set so as not to put pressure on her young player. “The match was coming with its own pressure. I wanted Nkatha to win so that she can put her AAG qualification on a high but I just didn’t want to watch the match because I would have brought panic to her,” Osogo said.

Osogo said before the match she had warned the Shadrack Kimalel Secondary School student of the challenge she will be facing in Otula but didn’t expect her to win. “At no time did I expect her to beat Otula. An experienced Otula was coming up against a young 17 year old girl. So rather than put pressure on her to win, I only asked her to play well and not to lose concentration,” Osogo explained.

During the match, Nkatha dominated the first set which was characterized by poor calls that led to various stoppages at regular intervals. Nkatha led 2-1 before Otula over took her to lead 3-2 lead.

The match was leveled at 4-4 before Nkatha took the set 6-4. The second set was no difference with the two players changing leads regularly. However it was Nkatha who took control of it with a 2-0 lead before Otula levelled the scores.

Otula showed what experience is all about when she cut the lead to 4-2 before the youngster clawed back to narrow the scores 4-3. Otula surged on with some power hitting and rallies which became hard for Nkatha to control and led 5-3.

But, the never-say-die Nkatha broke Otula and served to level the scores to 5-5. But, Nkatha was unable to maintain the tempo and lost 5-7.

With darkness making the ball difficult to see, the match umpire judged decided to stop the match and continue the following morning. Whatever happened between that stoppage to the next match appeared to have rgenerated Nkatha who come strong on Otula and won the match in 47 minutes.

A big achievement

A delighted Nkatha said beating Otula was a big achievement for her adding that she didn’t expect to be her six love in the third set after the two sets on Tuesday. “I am really delighted. Beating Otula is big achievement and will cherish this for some time. I hope this achievement will make me work harder for the coming matches,” Nkatha said.

On her part, Otula said she lost focus in the final set and gave credit to the youngster for her performance. “She is playing well and looks promising. However I blame myself for the loss. I lost focus in the final set and I paid the price for that,” Otula said.

Prior to this win, Nkatha had beaten Paige Mbugua. She is remaining with one match against Abigael Tate Harte. If she wins, she could be guaranteed a place in the All Africa Games team. 

In other matches played on Wednesday, Ibrahim Kibet beat Sheil Kotecha 6-2, 6-1 to enhance his chances of being named in the team. Faiz Khan who had a poor start also put on a good show by beating Ronny Ndinya 6-3, 6-1.