New tennis boss targets youngsters

NEWLY-appointed Tennis Zimbabwe (TZ) president Regis Bhunu says his board’s main task during his term of office will be to ensure that there is an increase in the number of youngsters being introduced to the game.

DANIEL NHAKANISO

The programme also supports the Tennis Play and Stay campaign, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) global initiative aimed at increasing tennis participation worldwide.

“Our main thrust during my term of office will be to ensure that there is an increase in the number of kids who are playing tennis countrywide,” Bhunu said.

Bhunu, who had served as the Tennis Zimbabwe vice-president for three years, took over as the association’s new president after he was elected unopposed during their annual meeting at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

Martin Lock, who was a board member in the previous executive, came in as the vice-president. Mutare’s Vincent Nyatoti, Bulawayo-based Beverly De Souza, Kuda Muhwandagara and Rutendo Chabururuka make up the rest of the board members.

“We already have an ongoing initiative with the ITF in which we have been promoting the use of slower balls, shorter and lighter rackets and smaller courts, to make it easier for children to take up the game.

“The next step for us will be to educate the coaches and we aim to do a number of clinics for junior coaches who will go and spread the game to schools around the country, so that we have more youngsters taking up the sport” said the former TZ vice-president.

“We will also be encouraging closer co-operation between the junior and senior coaches so that no talent is lost in-between and there is better co-ordination and sharing of ideas.”

At senior level, Bhunu said the new TZ board had set Davis Cup promotion as its highest priority and would ensure that the country hosts tournaments on the ITF Futures Circuit.

Zimbabwe have remained stuck in Africa Group III — the lowest rung of Davis Cup tennis —for the last four consecutive years.

In April, the team lead by Takanyi Garanganga came one position short of the promotion spots finishing third equal with Ivory Coast in the Africa Group III Round Robin in Tunisia.

“We have to make sure that we qualify to the Euro/Africa Group II because I believe we have enough good players to be playing at a much higher level than where we are right now.

“It’s just unfortunate that the timing of the tournaments has not been kind to us as they are held when our players have commitments at their universities. We need ITF Futures tournaments and a local company 23rd Century Systems have come onboard with $40 000 to ensure we host a senior tournament before the end of the year,” Bhunu added.

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