‘Twin assault’

Thursday, June 8th, 2023 01:00 | By
Angela Okutoyi (far left) joins her twin sister, Roselida Asumwa and Treasa Mutuku (centre) of Nairobi Tennis Club in a warm up exercise at Nairobi Club during a past event. With them are Mbagathi Primary School pupils. PD/ PHILLIP KAMAKYA

When Kenya’s tennis sensation Angela Okutoyi and her twin sister  Roselidah  Asumwa take to the courts at Nairobi Club to represent Team Kenya at the Billie Jean Cup, it will rekindle memories of when Kenyan siblings in different sports donned national team colours at the same time.

Some families have managed to produce stars who have played together and subsequently taken Kenyan sport to the next level, not least Okutoyi who became the first Kenyan to win a Grand Slam title.

The most pronounced is football and tracing back from the mid 90s, Kenya had the likes of the then Harambee Stars captain Musa “Otero” Otieno and his younger brother Eric “Tojo” Omondi who featured for the national team in the 1997 World Cup qualifiers.

Both were in the crack Stars squad under the tutelage of Reinhardt Fabisch, which bruised the egos of the once dreaded Super Eagles of Nigeria by holding the West Africans to a 1-1 draw in Nairobi before Stars fell 3-0 in the reverse fixture in Lagos.

Another example are the Mulama brothers, Simeon and Titus, then playing for Mathare United, who were teammates at Harambee Stars. Their biggest achievements was being incorporated in the national team which played in the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Tunisia.

The list in football is incomplete without mention of former Southampton and Celtics midfielder Victor Wanyama and his brother Macdonald Mariga formerly of Inter Milan. Both played for the national team before the younger generation of players cropped up to take their respective places.

In volleyball ,we have Kundu sisters Annete and Agrippina who have illuminated the volleyball scene while athletics has the likes of middle distance runner in two-times world champion Faith Chepng’etich and her sister Beatrice Mutai, the Riga Half Marathon champion.

In Okutoyi’s case, she readily revealed that she is excited to be playing together with her sister and maintained that their ultimate aim is to help Kenya win the high profile tennis event alongside the rest of the members in the team.

“We have a duty to ensure that Kenya carries the day in the championships. It does not matter who shall be playing but the ultimate aim is to ensure that every member of the squad gives her best for our country to win.

“Remember, we have dignity to protect as the home team,” offered Okutoyi.

Besides Okutoyoi, other members of the Team Kenya who are under the tutelage of Francis Rogoi are Melissa Mwaka, Cynthia Cheruto, Alicia Owegi, Stacy Yego and Roselidah Asumwa.  A host of Kenyan players who have performed well in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Circuits may have been surprised by their omissions in the squad, but the tema’s coach Francis Rogoi has responded without hesitation.

Rogoi cited level of discipline, commitment and level of play as the adaptation in the selection of the six-member squad.

Meanwhile, Tennis Kenya Secretary-General Wanjiru Mbugua-Karani has expressed gratitude for Kenya to have been given the opportunity to host such a high profile tennis event, saying it will be a forum not only to showcase the country’s hospitality to visitors but also to prove that African tennis is making headway.

“We are looking forward to embodying the vibrant African spirit and especially the warm hospitality of Kenya. This is also to ensure that we leave a lasting legacy of inspiration and progress in African tennis,” said Karani who is a former Kenya Fed Cup team captain.

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