The sky is the limit for Zimbabwe’s number one tennis player Takanyi Garanganga after he recently moved up from the ITF Futures events to the more competitive ATP Challenger Tour.
Challenger Tour events offer total prize money ranging from $35 000 up to $150 000 and are the second highest level of competition on the ITF Men’s circuit ahead of the Futures tournaments — the third and final tier of international professional competition.
Players who succeed on the ATP Challenger Tour earn sufficient ranking points to become eligible for the main draw or qualifying entry in ATP World Tour and Grand Slam tournaments.
Despite the transition, Garanganga gave good account of himself in his first tournament of the year last week at the 2012 Honolulu Challenger at the Kailua Racquet Club in Hawaii despite losing in the first round.
The reigning Zimbabwe Open champion had to go through the qualifying rounds where he won three consecutive matches against Japan’s Bumpe Sato (4-6, 6-2, 6-1), New Zealand’s Artem Sitak (5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4) and Romanian Lonut Catalin (6-1, 6-3) to book his place in the first round of the main draw.
Garanganga was, however, knocked out on the first round after going down 4-6, 3-6 to Amer Delic from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who is ranked 210 in the world compared to his opponent who is on number 614.
Meanwhile, two-time Zimbabwe Open tennis ladies’ champion Valeria Bhunu returns to competitive action for the first time since defending her crown last month when she takes part in the ITF East Africa 18 and Under Junior circuit which serves off in Kenya tomorrow.
Bhunu is one of the three local female players taking part in the event which runs until Wednesday together with Thabile Tshatedi and South Africa-based Vimbai Ugaro.