Kenya’s Sneha Kotecha won bronze at the 40th African junior tennis championships in Benoni, South Africa over the weekend.
Kotecha (pictured) was victorious in the playoff match against Madagascar’s Tsantaniony Iariniana.
Kotecha had a great run in the Championships that brought together the top players in the 14 & Under and 16 & Under categories on the African continent.
Representing Kenya in the Girls 16 & Under, Kotecha won all her pool matches despite being ranked a lowly thirteenth to advance into the knock out rounds.
A Bye in the First Round set up a clash with Fatia Ravoniandro of Madagascar whom she dully dispatched in straight sets, 6-1 6-3 to move into the last eight and a crowd puller of a match against fourth seeded Moroccan Oumaima Aziz. When the dust had settled, Kotecha emerged victorious in a bruising three set battle which she won in a close contest, 1-6 7-6(4) 6-4.
In the Semifinals, Kotecha faced the tough test of second seeded Hala Khaled of Egypt and came out second best losing 2-6 4-6 to end what has been an incredible run for the fast rising Kenyan.
In the Bronze medal match played on the last day, (Tuesday) Kotecha brought her ‘A’ game to put Kenya on the podium – the sole Kenyan to do so this year, beating Iariniana (Madagascar) in two identical sets, 6-3 6-3.
The second best performer on the Kenyan contingent was the second seeded Angella Okutoyi who despite not performing as expected reached the Quarterfinals of the Girls 14 & Under event losing to Egyptian Hania Ahmed in the last eight. Her compatriot Alicia Owegi however was a first round casualty having come through the preliminary rounds. Alissa Thakker was the second member of the Girls 16 & Under team and despite a poor showing in the Singles for Thakker, she teamed up with Kotecha and managed a Quarterfinal slot in the Doubles, losing to top seeds and eventual winners – Sada Nahimana and Aisha Niyonkuru of Burundi.
The Boys 16 & Under team was represented by Albert Njogu and Keean Shah. Njogu managed an overall position of 16 with better results expected from both players as the year rolls on. In the Boys 14 & Under, Keean’s brother Kael also found the going tough, losing in the first round despite an impressive show in the pool stages. His team mate Derick Ominde pulled out of the event due to injury.
Boys Singles 14 & Under – Carl Roothman (RSA)
Girls Singles 14 & Under – Hania Ahmed (EGY)
Boys Singles 16 & Under – Pierre Malan (RSA)
Girls Singles 16 & Under – Sada Nahimana (BDI)