Kenya’s Albert Njogu dismissed Udit Kamboj of India 6-4, 6-3 to book a place in the semi-finals of the ongoing International Tennis Federation (ITF) Nairobi Junior Open at Nairobi Club.
Njogu survived a first set scare from the Indian as he was forced to recover from three games down to level the tally in a fierce exchange of returns.
He maintained his winning rhythm in the subsequent two games for a 5-3 lead before Kamboj pulled one back. Determined to avoid a tie break, Njogu brilliantly scooped the final game to win the set.
Kamboj managed to break Njogu’s serve once in the second set and capitalised on his serve twice but it proved too little to stop Njogu from advancing to the final four.
Following the win, Njogu booked a date with Madagascan Toky Ranaivo, who dispatched Iranian Sina Moghimi 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
“It was a great match considering that I came from three games down in the first set but I kept fighting and never lost focus. He began brightly his returns were superb but I managed to restore parity and took control of the set,” he said.
“I think this is the best moment for me to win this tournament. I made it to the final in January and two weeks ago in Kigali where on both occasions I lost but I feel this time I am more focused and physically fit to fight for the elusive crown. I played Ranaivo five years ago in the U-12 in Mombasa where I won and I am looking forward for a repeat.”
After taking a break yesterday, a promising Sneha Kotecha will tackle Cheng Tu Hua of Chinese Taipei in the girls semi-finals today.
Njogu and Kotecha, who are under the tutelage of Rosemary Owino, will represent Kenya at the Africa Youth Games in Algeria later this month. Owino expressed gratitude to the federation for accepting to host the ITF legs days prior to the youth games. She said: “The two are part of the forthcoming youth games and I really thank the federation for having the ITF legs here in Nairobi. It’s a timely preparation and I must thank the players their performances so far. I am particularly happy with Njogu for he has learnt from last week’s mistake which saw him exit in the third round. Sneha has been consistent and her game is shooting high day in day out.”