Defending NetOne Zim Open tennis champion Benjamin Lock believes it will be difficult to defend his title considering the cast of players available for this year’s edition.
The tournament, which will see winners pocketing $1 500, is scheduled to run from Tuesday to December 17 at Harare Sports Club.
Lock beat Tinashe Chikanda 6-3, 6-2 in straight sets last year to win the tournament, but feels the presence of seasoned campaigners such as Genius Chidzikwe, Mark Fynn and Takanyi Garanganga will make it harder.
“I am looking forward to a good tournament because I have been playing very well in recent tournaments. It is always difficult to defend your title and this year it will be more difficult with the presence of experienced guys.
“If Takanyi Garanganga is available, then that is good news. Players like him add value to any event. I will be looking forward to playing him,” he said.
Garanganga is still bubbling with confidence after winning a gold medal at the Maputo All-Africa Games and is also in the running for the 2011 Sportsperson of the Year award.
In the ladies’ section Valeria Bhunu, who beat Lock’s sister Stacey 6-0, 6-2 to claim last year’s title, is expected in the country tomorrow from her United States base.
Bhunu should expect tough opposition from Pauline Chawafambira, last year’s losing finalist Stacey Lock and rising star Nicole Dzenga.
Meanwhile, former Davis Cup player Genius Chidzikwe is mulling coming out of retirement to play in the 2012 Davis Cup Euro/Africa Zone tournament which will be played in Tunisia in the week commencing April 23.
Chidzikwe said he has been thinking hard about coming back to the team in any capacity.
“If the selectors feel that I still have a role to play, then I am willing to come back. I am not saying the players that are currently playing are not good enough, but I may come in as captain.
“If the selectors think that I might be the answer to our quest to be promoted to Group II, then I will take the offer. However, I am not saying I should be in the team as that is a prerogative of the selectors,” he said.
Nine nations — Algeria, Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Zimbabwe — will be placed in two pools and play in a round-robin format.
The top nation in each pool plays off against the runner-up in other pool, with two winning nations promoted to Europe/Africa Zone Group II for 2013.
Last year the trio of Garanganga, Fynn and Lock finished third behind Egypt and Madagascar which were both promoted to Euro/Africa Zone Group II.