Angella Okutoyi explains how she is planning to ensure she seals historic Olympics qualification

Kenya's Angella Okutoyi after winning tennis gold at the African Games. Photo: Angella Okutoyi X

Angella Okutoyi explains how she is planning to ensure she seals historic Olympics qualification

Joel Omotto 16:10 - 03.04.2024

Kenya’s tennis sensation Angella Okutoyi has revealed what she is planning to do to actualise her dream of making history by qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Kenya’s tennis sensation Angella Okutoyi has lined up a number of matches that will enable her seal her ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Okutoyi has one leg into the Olympics after winning gold at the African Games in Accra, Ghana last month but she needs to be in the top 400 in the WTA rankings to make it to Paris.

The 20-year-old is currently ranked position 538 with 91 points with the 400-ranked player being Thasaporn Naklo from Thailand who has 157 points.

Okutoyi therefore needs 67 points to get ahead of her by June 10 which will see her claim her Olympics spot.

The Kenyan is relying heavily on her US-based University of Auburn to help her navigate through the hurdles, having called the Alabama-based institution home since 2023.

“Thanks to my school Auburn, we are trying to see if I can play a few tournaments here in the States,” Okutoyi, who secured a four-year tennis and education scholarship at the university, told the No-Ad, No Problem Podcast.

“April 22 might be my first tournament in Charlottesville and there are like eight more tournaments. I am trying to see if I can do good in probably two of them, or all of them, to see how my ranking can go so I have a plan and hopefully I get the top 400.”

Okutoyi switched to Auburn instead of turning pro after experiencing financial challenges and has been relying on the school for her tennis career since then.

Even as she plans for her Olympics qualification, she admits help has so far not come from Kenya but remains hopeful.

“Right now, my school is funding me and hopefully my federation back home and after winning [African Games gold] nothing changed,” she added.

“Maybe because I came [directly] here in the States because I feel like most corporate organisations [in Kenya] might want you there physically to help you so maybe they are waiting for me to go back but as of now, nothing changed.”

Okutoyi beat Egyptian Lamis Abdelaziz with an impressive score of 6-4, 6-2 to claim the African Games gold for Kenya for the first time since 1978 which saw her claim one of the four reserved Olympics slots for winners of various continental games.

However, her low rankings mean she must work hard in the next two months to make it into the top 400 to actualise her historic Olympic dreams.

Okutoyi is no stranger to historic achievements. She previously etched her name in history as the first Kenyan to win a Grand Slam title at the girls’ juniors Wimbledon, partnering with Rose Marie of the Netherlands.

She also holds the distinction of being the first Kenyan to win a girls’ junior single Grand Slam match at the 2022 Australian Open.

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