Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
TENNIS stakeholders have called for more tournaments if the country is to produce players that qualify to be among the top 100 players in the world.
The sport has resumed but there have been no local tournaments yet the country is hosting three International Tennis Federation juniors tournaments.
Bulawayo-based player Ethan Sibanda managed to make it to two finals.
The first one held in Bulawayo was rained out, while the second tournament held in Harare saw Sibanda losing in the final to Israeli Itay Bity, whom he had beaten in the semi-finals of the Bulawayo meet.
Benedict Badza was the only local player to reach the semi-finals of the third tourney held in Harare that was won by South African Andreas Scott.
Failure to clinch any of the titles has been attributed to few competitive matches local players have been exposed to.
Fradreck Chapepa said participating in tournaments improves the player’s game as he or she gains experience from each tournament.
He said featuring in more tournaments allows young players to socialise, which assists them to develop other cognitive skills while creating rivalry and competition, which is healthy.
“Our players are not competitive when playing outside as they lack match experience. Coaches and parents can use tournaments to measure progress being made and identify areas that need improvement.
We cannot have constant training with no assessment; it’s like a pilot flying a radar-less aeroplane. You don’t know where you are and where you are going,” said Chapepa.
He said he had to send his children Kudzai and Kuziva to South Africa to play in a number of tournaments to gain match experience after practising for months without any competitive matches.
The two sisters spent Christmas in the neighbouring country and they will be taking part in more events this week.
Chapepa said local tournaments reduce costs on the parents hence the need to have more such tournaments to avoid resorting to sending children outside the country.
He said it was unfortunate the country is yet to host a local tournament since players were allowed to resume training in June.
GAP tennis coach Thesly Mufunda bemoaned the collapse of yesteryear tournaments such as the Arenel Schools League, Coca-Cola junior tournament, Old Mutual Open tournaments, Wiseforce Security League, Bata junior tournaments, Air Zim senior open and Caltex senior open.
He said there is need for challenge matches within clubs, provincial leagues for both juniors and seniors, while each province/city must have its own monthly tournaments to increase the number of junior and senior local tournaments.
Chapepa said there is a need for more creative marketing strategies to lure more sponsors.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Tennis Board chairman Raggs Chikunichawa said the challenging economic environment had a negative effect on the growth of the sport as fewer sponsors were coming forward.
He said despite the challenges, the sport has managed to survive and in the last four years has been able to host back-to-back international tournaments.