ZIMBABWE’S Rufaro Chirewa capped off a successful week in East Africa after winning the doubles title at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) 18 and under circuit on the outdoor clay courts at the Nairobi Club in Kenya on Saturday.
Chirewa (17) and her Kenyan partner beat the highly rated top seeded pair of Vicky Geurinckx from Belgium and Lexie Stevens from the Netherlands 3-6, 6-4 (10-4) in a closely fought final.
Chasing her maiden title on the ITF Junior circuit, Chirewa and her partner started the match on a slow pace which allowed their opponents to easily wrap up the first set.
They, however, put their act together in the second set to force the match into a tie breaker which they won comfortably.
“They (Mbaya and Chirewa) played great tennis and deserved to win. We were not our usual selves in the first set, but gradually picked up although it didn’t work out,” said Geurinckx who is ranked 490th in the world.
The second seeded Zimbabwean-Kenyan pair were made to work hard throughout the tournament. Another tie breaker was needed in their 6-3, 3-6, (12-10) win over the fourth seeds Runa Ichinose of Japan and Maria Dominique Ong of the Philippines in the semi-finals.
In the quarter-finals, Chirewa and Mbaya rallied from a set down to beat the Moroccan pair of el-Jardi and el-Khalifi of Morocco 5-7, 6-4, (10-7).
Chirewa, who entered the competition with an ITF world ranking of 885, will be hoping to continue her good form during the second round of the competition at the same venue starting today.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s number one tennis player Takanyi Garanganga finally lost his first match in 12 outings this year going down 3-6, 7-6, 2-6 to American Nicholas in the quarter-finals of the 2015 Royal Lahaina Challenger in Hawaii on Friday evening.
The 23-year-old star had earlier upset the top seed David Kulda from Ukraine 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round of the ATP Challenger Tour event.