Zimbabwe’s Benjamin Lock crashed out of the Under-18 singles quarter-finals at the 34th African Junior Championships (AJC) on Wednesday following a 7-6 (4), 6-2 loss to South African Wayne Montgomery.
Lock had lost his last two meetings with the South African before breaking the jinx in the final of the warm-up tournament last weekend.
However, with a semi-final place beckoning he came unstuck against the same opponent on Wednesday when it mattered most despite taking the first set to a tie-breaker.
Lock, who is on a tennis scholarship at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Training Centre in Pretoria, South Africa, will now have to be content with doing well in the doubles event with compatriot Tendai Tapfuma.
South Africa-based Tapfuma is also out of contention in the singles category after being knocked out in the first round Monday.
However, the two have enjoyed a good understanding in the doubles section and were set to meet the Egyptian pair of Hossam Karim and Albert Mina in the doubles semis.
While the boys were finding the going tough, it was the same case in the girls section of the Under-18 in which the country’s representatives Vimbai Ugaro and Pauline Chawafambira both lost in the second round.
After clearing the first hurdle in the first round, Ugaro, who had a tough draw, was outplayed 6-0, 6-1 in the second round by the first seed pre-tournament favourite Hariniony Razafinatratra of Madagascar.
Mutare-based Chawafambira also found the going tough and fell at the same stage to Egyptian fifth seed Sharif Ahmed 6-4, 6-4 in straight sets.
The failure by any players among the Zimbabwean quartet in the Under-18 category means Zimbabwe will have to wait a bit longer to win the Under-18 title.
Local players who have done well in the same age group in past AJC tournaments include the Black siblings Wayne, Byron and Cara, and most recently Mbonisi Ndimande and Takanyi Garanganga.
The two-week-long championships which started on March 28 and expected to end on Friday attracted 219 players from different countries on the continent.