The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
ZIMBABWE tennis juniors found the going tough at the ITF/CAT African Closed Junior 18 and Under Championships losing in the first round at the tournament being held in South Africa.
The country’s five representatives all made a bow in the first round of the tourney that began on Monday and ends on Sunday with Ethan Sibanda losing to Tunisia’s Habib Stambouli, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, while Rufaro Magarira fell to another Tunisian, Feryel Ben Hassen, 7-6, 6-1 and Tadiwanashe Mauchi was dispatched 6-3, 7-6 by Madagascar’s Mialy Ranaivo.
Tinashe Taruberekera struggled against South Africa’s Khololwam Montsi losing 6-0, 6-1 and Chelsea Chakanyuka was beaten 6-0, 6-4 by Morocco’s Aya El Aouni.
Tennis Zimbabwe president, Biggie Magarira blamed the poor showing to lack of exposure and playing in fewer tournaments.
He said while young players from other countries get to play in tourneys more frequently Zimbabweans were finding it difficult to travel to more tournament due to inadequate funding.
“We just have to start holding more tournament because you could see it was just lack of experience that affected our players as they were not robust enough or tough enough in face of the opponents.
“If you look at the results, they (Zimbabweans) played well but lacked that final cutting edge to win the matches,” said Magarira, speaking from South Africa.
He said it would be difficult to compete against players who play in more than 40 tournaments a year when locals play in less than six adding they agreed with his executive to apply to CAT for more tournaments and ensure the country holds at least two junior events each month.
Magarira said travelling costs also negatively affect the ability of most local players to attend most tourneys hence it would be best if they are held in the country.
“Some of the girls they were playing with are already playing in the Futures (seniors’ international tournaments) hence it would be difficult to beat them. North Africans also have the advantage of being able to take part in tournaments in Europe due to lower travelling costs.
“We are really worried about the performance of the juniors as they are our base and we will ensure they are given all they need to perform well,” he said.
The local players will now take part in a team tourney that begins on Friday.