Chaos rocks Harare Tennis Open

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The annual Metropolitan Harare Tennis Open Championships’ next edition of the tournament is in big doubt as sponsors continue to shun the sport.

After this year’s chaotic event which saw players pulling out in protest over lack of prize money, Harare Metropolitan Tennis Board Chairman Barnabas Chipindu revealed to NewsDay Sport that next year’s edition is uncertain unless a title sponsor comes onboard.

“It is hanging in the balance but if no sponsor comes on board there is nothing we can do but to cancel it. The sport of tennis is not attracting sponsorship in this country for the reasons we really don’t know,” said Chipindu.

“We can’t continue the same way we did this year so we are saying we will only have the tournament on one condition, that is if the corporate sector partners with us,” added Chipindu.

Chipindu said at least $10 000 is needed to run the whole tournament.

“For the tournament to be competitive the winners should get at least $1 000 so we are looking at a minimum of $10 000 as the whole package. Tennis being an individual sport, players needs to get something in prizes so that they can buy things such as uniforms, tackies, rackets and even balls to be able to train. I am appealing to the corporate sector to support us the same way they are supporting other sports like rugby, cricket and soccer in this country,” Chipindu pleaded.

This year’s edition which ended yesterday at the Harare Sports club turned into a farce after Genius Chidzikwe and Martin Dzuwa refused to play their semi-final match saying they need to be assured of prize money first.

Bulawayo-based Cynthia Sibanda, who was supposed to partner South African Jessica Picas in the Women doubles final that was set for Monday, also pulled out of the tournament on similar grounds.

However, Chipindu had no kind words for the players who pulled out of the tournament, especially Chidzikwe and Dzuwa.

“Although I understand their position, but as coaches themselves, they should not have done that (pulling out). That was the last thing we expected from senior players like them, what they did is very negative. They should have played to motivate the youngsters and all the kids who look up to them,” fumed Chipindu.

In Monday’s women singles finals, Pauline Chawafambira beat Picas 6–0, 6–3 while Malcolm Mutungamiri was crowned this year’s winner in the men’s singles after the other semis failed to take place.

Mutungamiri produced an upset after he beat pre-tournament favourite and number one seed Mlandeli Ndlela 4–6, 6–4, 6–1 in a semi-final match that was played on Saturday.

In the boys’ doubles final, Terrence Madzungaire and Tinotenda Alufeyo defeated Luca Picci and Yohanis Atzinger 6-7, 6-1 (13-11 on a super tie breaker).