By Andrew Ombuni
Tennis is one of the World’s adored sports as compared to other sports since it has minimal injuries and viewed as a better way of relieving stress by smashing some balls in the tennis court.
It also offers great workout to tennis players since they are constantly in motion and nearly using every muscle in their body thus building muscle and stamina in the long-run.
The Top 10 Greatest Women’s Tennis Players of All Time whose names are found in the International Tennis Hall of Fame are Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Evonne Goolagong, Billie Jean King, Monica Seles, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf.
Although, the sport in Kenya is gaining momentum slowly, teenagers have now stormed into the industry and are out to make a name for themselves apart from raising the Kenyan flag at the international scene.
One of them is, Lavin Grace Nyundo, a 19-year old first student at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce.
Born in Nambale area, Busia County- the youngster says she developed interest in tennis aged 10 years while in class 5 at Buyofu primary school.
According to Ms Nyundo, she used to spend much of her free time on TV watching World’s great tennis player such as Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic in action.
But her debut was when she joined Cardinal Otunga Girls High School-Bungoma County aged 14 years when she now got the hands on opportunity to ply her trade in the sport.
Ms Nyundo got the opportunity to be trained by renowned coaches in Kenya, the likes of Joe Karani and Veronica Osogo whilst in Form one and two at Cardinal Girls.
The Lawn Tennis rising star caught the attention of the region in 2015 when she led Team Kenya be crowned the winners-girls category during the East and Central Africa School Games at Huye District-Rwanda.
At individual level, she emerged position eight in East Africa during the East and Central Africa School Games.
“I was in Form three when we were crowned the East Africa Champions in Tennis-Girls category. It was a great opportunity for me for steering Team Kenya to greater heights,” said Ms Nyundo.
Again while in Form Four, regional school games were held in Eldoret town-Uasin Gishu County where they successfully defended their they won in Rwanda in 2015.
Ms Nyundo then 17 years old, maintained position 8 as East and Central top ten rising tennis stars.
In the same year, she reached finals of the Joe Academy Tennis Tournament which was played at Kibabii Boys High School in Bungoma County and emerged position 2. She was awarded with a Silver Medal.
During the Regional School Games held in Lodwar-Turkana County, she was awarded with a trophy after emerging Position 1 then preceded to Nationals I Kisumu where she emerged Position 7 out of 10 nationally.
Despite the pressure that comes with such results, the 19-year-old Lawn Tennis Singles player is pushing back against the typical narrative of a rising teenage tennis player. Now, she has reached a crucial point in her career in choosing between continuing with the University Education and turning into a superstar.
The student is part of a large group of promising Kenyan rising youngsters most of whom have already made a name for themselves.
After joining, MMUST in September last year, she joined the varsity’s tennis team and since they have recorded good results.
Last month, during the Kenya Universities Sports Association (KUSU) played at Kibabii University lost for the first time to 6-3 scores. She was playing against Marion Njeri of Kenyatta University. She was crowned the second runners up and awarded a silver medal.
Nyundo is a player Humara Western Region Tennis Club where she recently she won four consecutive matches of 4-0, 4-0, 4-0 and 4-1 scores against Lenah Ouma, Dinah Nginah, Victoria Maina and Kelly Auma of Maseno University respectively.
The games were held at Kakamega Sports Club on April 27, this year.
“I want to be a great player and in the next ten years, I want to see my name written at the International Tennis Hall of Fame where the top ten tennis players of all time, there is no an African Tennis Player featuring there. I will be the first Kenyan to appear in the hall of fame,” said Lavin Nyundo.
Nyundo believes that she can fly the Kenyan flag at International Tennis Competitions in future.
“Treat the word impossible as nothing more than motivation. Whatever your dreams are today, dream even bigger, wherever you have set your sights, raise them even higher and above all keep going. I have made my intentions clear and determined to win more titles now at the international scene,” she said.
Unlike a majority of top juniors, the first year student has never attended a tennis academy and did not leave home to pursue the sport.
She has no parent-coach and does not come from a tennis background. Her father was a football player in his youthful years but did not pursue it further.