ZIMBABWE’S players taking part at the on-going Southern African Zonal Championships had a good start to their campaign with most of them winning their opening matches on Saturday in Pretoria, South Africa.
The tournament which is running up to January 17 is featuring Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 players from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and hosts South Africa.
Zimbabwe are fielding 12 players with the pair of Andrew Kunaka and Tanaka Chabata leading the boys in the Under-16 while Ethan Sibanda and Tinashe Taruberekera are fighting for honours in the Under-14.
Michael Happy and Bukhosi Moyo are competing in the Under-12.
Beverly Matsiwe and Kimberly Kaome are competing in the Girls Under-16 while the pair of Charlotte Zhuwakini and Vimbai Moyo are taking part in the Under-14. Clare Machisa and Nicole Matukutire are participating in the Under-12.
Kunaka had a positive start on Saturday as he beat Tshepo Mosarwa from Botswana 6-3, 6-2 in the boys Under-16. His fellow countryman Tanaka Chabata also had a good day in office as he dismissed Malawi’s Dereck Gamula 6-0, 6-0 in the same age-group.
In the girls section Matsiwe dismissed Marang Maroko of Botswana in straight sets 6-0, 6-0 to progress to the next round. It was the same story for Kaome as she also cruised to the next round when she defeated Malawi’s Gloria Christopher 6-0, 6-0.
Zhuwakini prevailed over Manyama Maisa of Lesotho 6-1, 6-1 in the girls Under-14. However, Vimbai Moyo found the going tough in the same age group when went down 6-1, 6-0 to Mwayiwathu Kadamanja from Malawi .
Tennis Zimbabwe administrator, Cliff Nhokwara expressed confidence in the players as he said they are expecting most of the Under-14 and Under-16s to proceed to the AJC finals scheduled for April although he pointed out that it’s a tough competition.
“It’s a tough tournament with South Africa hosting, they’ve four players in each age-group but at the same time it gives us competition.
“We expect half of the players especially the 14s and 16s to reach the finals. I’m sure half of the players will qualify for the finals (Africa Junior championships) .
“They all have participated in this event before in different age-groups, those that are there now in the Under-14 participated in the Under-12 and those in the Under-16 participated in the Under-14 before. So it’s not a new event for them. Usually they’ll play the same players they played before,” said Nhokwara.