Benjamin Lock: Zimbabwe tennis star in the making

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Since the era of the Black brothers — Byron and Wayne, local tennis has never been the same as new players have failed to match the very high standards required in the Davis Cup tournament.
Byron and Wayne formed the core of Zimbabwe’s Davis Cup team in the 1990s in which Zimbabwe reached the quarter-finals of the prestigious world group of the tournament in 1998.
Promising young tennis player Benjamin Lock (17), who is on a tennis scholarship at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Training Centre in Pretoria, South Africa could be the country’s next tennis sensation if his recent performances are anything to go by.
NewsDay spoke with the promising tennis player recently from his current base in Morocco.
“My dream was always to play Davis Cup for Zimbabwe like what my father did so I developed a love for the sport when I was still young. He was my coach when I was learning the game and his great efforts when I was young have been very critical,” said young Benjamin.
Son of Martin Lock, a former Zimbabwe international who also represented the country in the Davis Cup in the 80s, Benjamin’s recent exploits in the Davis Cup and the ITF Grand Junior Tour in Morocco suggest he could become the country’s next tennis star.
Benjamin’s young brother Courtney is also showing a lot of promise in local junior tournaments.
Their father Martin, who is also the executive board member for development at Tennis Zimbabwe said it was his son’s dream to play in the Davis Cup like he did.
Benjamin is part of a team that is on an ITF development programme, which is financed by the ITF and Grand Slam Development Fund. Benjamin, who recently made his debut for Zimbabwe in the Davis Cup said his participation in the programme has been very helpful to his young career.
“Playing in Morocco has been really great for my tennis. I was here previously for the Davis Cup competition and I have been training for one month. Tennis here is predominately played on clay courts which are a lot slower than hard courts back home, and this requires more patience because court craft and movement plays a big role.
“My targets this year are to make the US Open Junior Championships in September and also to represent Zimbabwe at the Youth Olympics in August and to finish in the top 80 in junior rankings. At the moment I’m ranked 118,” he said.
Benjamin reached the semifinals of the RUC Tennis Tournament recently and said he was looking forward to playing in major tournaments. During the Davis Cup in May, he finished unbeaten in his two matches despite being the youngest player in the Zimbabwe team.
Former Tennis Zimbabwe Vice President Tanya Chinamo also commended the ability Lock was showing at a young age.
“At the moment he is ranked fourth in Africa which includes some players who are eighteen years old when he is just seventeen. Chances are high that he will participate at the Youth Olympics in Singapore.
“He has received specialist coaching which is helping develop him into a competitive player who can in the future compete in some of the biggest tournaments,” said Chinamo.
“Most of the best players in the world including our own Byron and Wayne Black went through similar training programmes and this could be a major breakthrough in his career,” he said.