The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
FRANCE-based tennis prodigy, Rufaro Magarira clinched her first international title on Friday when she beat Russian, Arina Valitova to lift the International Tennis Federation Juniors J4 Nairobi second leg 18 and under tournament in Kenya.
Magarira fought her way to victory in a three-and-a-half-hour battle to beat Valitova 7-6, 4-6, 6-4. An ecstatic Magarira expressed delight at the victory after having lost the final of the first leg to American, Cleo Hutchinson.
“I came to this tournament with the target of winning it and after losing in the final of the first leg. I was even more motivated going into the second leg. Despite losing the second set I kept on believing and never gave up even when I was 2-0 down in the third set, I knew I could still win it and kept my focus. I’m very excited about the win and looking forward to the next tournament and doing even better,” she said.
Magarira partnered compatriot, Nicole Matukutire in the doubles and the managed to reach the finals of the first leg but they exited in the quarter-finals in the second leg.
Coach Kuda Nembaware, who accompanied the players in Kenya, said the girls brought good energy and intensity throughout the whole week playing a total of 16 matches and lost only four matches in the first leg.
“I was really impressed with their ability to regulate themselves mentally and always ensure they had the appropriate arousal levels for whatever stage of the match they found themselves in. They played against players from China, South Africa, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Austria and this experience will be invaluable to their continued development as people and as athletes.
I’m happy Rufaro managed to win the second leg and was impressed with her mental strength. Next assignment is rest, recovery and then preparation for maybe Ghana ITFs or some pro events or back to France for a training block,” he said.
Matukutire lost in the first round, 7-6, 6-1 to South Africa’s Mikayla Plitt while Tadiwanashe Mauchi made it to the quarter-finals and was knocked out by finalist, Valitova, 6-3, 6-3. Bulawayo-based rising star, Kudzai Chapepa (13) made it to the second round after running over Kenyan, Vishwa Shah 6-0, 6-0 in the first round but lost to 18-year-old Nepalese, Abhilasha Bista 2-6, 6-4, 4-6.