Eight countries are set to participate in the ITF/CAT East African Junior Championships that starts on Wednesday January 11 at the Nairobi Club.
The countries include host Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania as well as Ethiopia, Comoros, Seychelles and Sudan who will be joining the hosts Kenya.
The regional showpiece will have 46 boys and 26 girls competing for their nations over a 10 day period from the 11th to 20th January where two events will be staged. In the first event, players will be involved in individual competition which will culminate in the team event comprising 38 boys and 21 girls fighting for the team title.
Kenya will be out to defend the title they won at Nairobi Club last year with what is a very formidable team. Team A of the Girls 16 & Under team will be anchored by the current Masters holder Sneha Kotecha. Kotecha will be buttressed by Esther Wahome and Michelle Nyakio. The Girls Team B will be led by Alissa Thakker who will have Claire Muthoni and Hamida Rajabu for team mates. On the 16 & Under Boys, Team A composes of a strong contingent which includes Spain based Keean Shah, last year’s 14 & Under Champion Ryan Randiek and Albert Njogu who will be the nations pride and joy during the Championships. Team B of the Boys 16 & Under sees Kennedy Musembi, Samuel Urasa and Moses Mwaura as formidable for any visiting team.
As Keean Shah holds fort in the Boys 16 & Under, his younger brother Kael will lead the charge in the 14 & Under Boys A team. Kael who won the 12 & Under Doubles last year will team up with Suhail Hooker and Derrick Ominde. Team B will have Karisa Kesi, Bradon Sagala and Mwendwa Mutuku. The Girls 14 & Under will have two sisters in the team as twins Angela Okutoyi and Rosemary Asumwa carry the flag for the nation joined by Alicia Owegi who was also a winner in last year’s edition in the 12 & Under. The B team for the Girls 14 & Under is comprised of Nicole Agufana, Purity Adhiambo and Cynthia Cheruto.
Team Kenya was presented with the team kit and flag by Tennis Kenya Chairman Mr. James Kenani backed up by a morale boosting pep talk to rouse the charges to doing the double in as many years.
Kenya’s path to gold will however be an uphill climb. Coming in from the Orange Bowl Series, Sada Nahimana leading Team Burundi will definitely have something to say about the host’s claim, at least to the Girls 16 & Under title. Nahimana’s challenge to the team title will also be boosted by the fact that Kenyan based Aisha Niyonkuru joins her in the team. Last year’s beaten finalist in the Boys 14 & Under Damien Laporte of The Seychelles will also be a huge challenge to Team Kenya’s title hopes as play kicks off at Nairobi Club tomorrow.