Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
SEVEN junior tennis players left the country yesterday to compete at the ITF/CAT Under-14 tournament which starts today and ends on Sunday in Pretoria, South Africa.
Cliff Nhokwara, a Tennis Zimbabwe official, said coach Thesly Mufunda is leading a team made up of Claire Machisa, Tsitsi Mahere, Victoria Sasnika, Ethan Sibanda, Taona Mwandagara, Lyle Zalamous and Benedict Badza.
Machisa, Sibanda and Mwandagara were part of a team that participated at the CAT Southern Zonal Championships held in Namibia in January.
Nhokwara said after the Pretoria tournament, the trio of Machisa, Sibanda and Mwandagara will stay in South Africa for the African Junior Championships finals to be held in Benoni from March 26 to April 5.
“A team headed for the ITF/CAT Under-14 tournament left today for South Africa and some of the players, who will compete at the AJC, will leave on Saturday. We’re hopeful that the youngsters will do well in South Africa and learn a lot by participating at the competitions,” said Nhokwara.
Rufaro Magarira, who was a losing finalist in the girls’ Under-14 CAT Southern Zonal Championships held in Namibia, together with Vimbai Moyo, Charlotte Zhuwakini, Anesu Kwirirai and Thabo Ncube will join the trio of Machisa, Sibanda and Mwandagara for the AJC.
By participating at the AJC, Team Zimbabwe stands a chance to qualify for the Junior Davies Cup, Junior Fed Cup and even make it for the World Teams.
Mufunda believes the aspiring tennis aces have worked on their shortcomings from the Namibia tour and are ready for the South African trip.
“The players did well in Namibia and we’re now looking forward to the Africa Tennis Junior Championships in Benoni. We have worked on our shortcomings. In Namibia, technically we matched our opponents and had the ability to dominate play, but we struggled to finish off the points, especially during crucial games. Our doubles let us down in the team events and we need to work hard to improve. Going forward, the players need to be mentally strong so that they don’t lose focus and concentrate throughout their respective games,” said Mufunda.