TENNIS Zimbabwe administrator Cliff Nhokwara says they are concerned about the performance of the country’s junior teams in international competitions as they prepare to host this year’s edition of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) South/Central African Junior circuit games.
Report by Vitalis Moyo
The tournament is an open competition catering for Under-18s and will be played at the Harare Sports Club from July 27 to August 10.
Last year, Zimbabwe hosted two of the tournament’s games with Courtney Lock and Kudzai Tapfuma clinching the doubles title in the first games while Tapfuma lost out in the singles finals to South Africa’s Matthew Rossouw in the second games.
“We are concerned about our performance as the hosts as we had a few of our players making it to the semi-finals and finals in last year’s edition of the games. Tapfuma was the outstanding player from Zimbabwe in that tournament and we are hoping that this time around more of the local players will advance to the final stages of the games,” Nhokwara said.
Last year’s tournament attracted young tennis players from Botswana, South Africa, Nigeria, Madagascar, the Netherlands, the Ivory Coast and India, among others.
“We will only know which countries will be coming in this year’s edition of the games two weeks before the games start as players are registering directly with ITF. We will get the list from ITF once registration is complete,” Nhokwara added.
Zimbabwe’s lack of exposure and inexperience in international events in the junior circuit showed as the junior team put up a dismal performance losing all their five round robin games in the just-ended qualifiers for the Under-14 World Junior finals that took place in Tunisia.
“The Tunisia trip was a tough one for our girls as they were competing against tough opponents. The other countries had fielded last year’s Under-14s while our girls are first year Under-14s.
“This is a positive to us as our players have a chance to play again at the same event next year. They could turn things around since they now have the experience,” Nhokwara added.
Egypt won the sole ticket to represent Africa in the World Junior finals that will take place in Prostejov, Czech Republic, from August 5-10 2013.