Meshkatolzahra Safi and Angella Okutoyi were the two proper names at the opening of the Australian Open junior tournament. The reason is that, as confirmed by the WTA, they made history for tennis in Iran and Kenya, respectively, by becoming the first tennis players from their countries to win a Grand Slam match in their category.
Safi, 17, plays with her head, legs and arms covered by the imposition of her religion, despite the fact that temperatures in Melbourne exceed 30 degrees. In her debut she beat Australian Nayar 6-4, 6-3 and will face Costoulas in the second round. His victory brings another prize, and that is that he will enter the top-100 juniors, another historic mark for his country that no one had achieved in a tennis with little tradition and whose greatest exponent was the charismatic Mansour Bahrami, who also had French nationality and was a finalist in doubles at Roland Garros 1989.
Two historic milestones in the #AusOpen juniors today:
🇮🇷 Meshkatolzahra Safi became the 1st girl from Iran to win a Grand Slam juniors match.
🇰🇪 Angella Okutoyi became the 1st girl from Kenya to win a Grand Slam juniors match. pic.twitter.com/8gQhcG5Yb3
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 23, 2022
“It was a big step, the biggest of my career”, Safi explained. “To get to this point, I went through difficult times, because playing professional tennis in my country is very difficult. I had a hard time playing tournaments, getting visas and not having sponsors many times. I tell other young people like me not to give up on your dreams.”, added this girl who took part in a project of the International Federation (ITF) in Karaj.
The Pride of Kenya
Okutoyi, meanwhile, 17 years old and already installed in the top-100, was able to beat the Italian Urgesi and will meet the Australian Larke. The victory was much celebrated in his nation. The Minister of Sports and other members of the Government echoed her on social networks, and the journalist Caral Radull dared to ask to be rewarded: “If you are the second Kenyan to play in the Australian Open, you have already achieved it in life. If you win a game, you deserve a state accolade or at least a road named after you. Well done Angela Okutoyi, you have made Kenya proud.” Susan Wakhungu (Wimbledon 1978) and Christian Vitulli (US Open 2005) had previously competed in junior major tournaments, but failed to win. “Being able to participate in a Grand Slam is a dream. An experience, because you only come once a year. I am very happy and proud to be where I am,” said Okutoyi.