Twelve juniors for international tennis events

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Zimbabwe will be represented by 12 players at the junior Davies Cup, Fed Cup and World Junior tennis competition qualifiers set for Cairo Egypt from June 20-26.

The team which is made up of the bulk of the players who helped Zimbabwe to finish a credible fifth out of 28 African countries at the African Junior Championships in Botswana recently.

The boys’ and girls’ Under-16 players will take part in the junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup qualifiers respectively while the Under-14s will take part in the World Tennis Competition qualifiers.

In the junior Davis Cup qualifiers, Ronzai Saurombe and Taremeredzwa Mariga will carry the country’s hopes while the trio of Courtney Lock, Tadiwa Mberi and Michael Mandingwa will battle it out for the other place.

Zimbabwe will battle it out for a place at the Junior Davis Cup competitions with hosts Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and DRC, while Mauritius has been put on standby.

With the country not having taken part in the Fed Cup since 1996, Valeria Bhunu, Thabile Tshatedi and Lorraine Mandingwa will be out to make sure that the country makes a return in the near future.

The local girls will battle it out for a place in the junior Fed Cup tournament with Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritius. Zimbabwe competed in their first Fed Cup in 1966 as Rhodesia, the same year they achieved their best result of reaching the round of 16 in their debut year.

In the World Junior Tennis Competition qualifiers which are meant for Under-14 players, Zimbabwe is set to be represented by six players, three in each gender category.

In the boys’ category, Tadiwa Chinamo, Alywn Mushonga and Ngoni Chiwetete will battle it out with players from South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Ghana and Egypt.

In the girls’ category Nicole Dzenga and Karen Muswere will be joined by one more player after a playoff including five players, namely Latifa Yasin, Tariro Dembo, Karen Machisa, Zara Finnigan and Tanaka Chakanyuka.

The local Under-14 girls will battle it out with fellow players from Namibia, Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana and hosts Egypt.

Tennis Zimbabwe vice-president told NewsDay Sport that the selected players had already started preparing for the tournaments with their respective coaches.

“As Tennis Zimbabwe we are happy that our players will be getting an opportunity to play in high- level tournaments like these. This can only help develop our players to gain more confidence when playing in top competitions.

“Because of limited resources we are not able to have the players at one place but we have already instructed their respective coaches to expose them to claycourts similar to the one they will play on in Egypt,” said Bhunu.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s rising tennis star Benjamin Lock has been rewarded for his consistent performances recently after the ITF shortlisted him as one of the players who will embark on an eight-week tour of Europe starting on May 9.

Lock (18) is currently ranked the best player on the continent in his age group and will get a chance to play in six tournaments in Europe, including two junior Grand Slam tournaments at the French Open and Wimbledon.

The tour is funded by the Grand Slam Development Fund.

Each year, based on performances at regional junior circuits, talented players from less developed tennis nations are selected to join ITF/Grand Slam touring teams to play higher-level events outside their region.

Other local players who have embarked on similar tours in the past include female tennis star Cara Black US-based Mbonisi Ndimande, and professional tennis player Takanyi Garanganga.