Zimbabwe’s hopes of securing promotion to the Euro/Africa Zone Group II were dealt a heavy blow after the country’s top player Takanyi Garanganga withdrew from the 2012 Africa Zone Group III tournament which got underway in Tunisia yesterday.
The tournament, which runs until Friday, has attracted eight African countries and will see the top two countries promoted to the Europe/Africa Zone Group II for 2013.
Garanganga, who was expected to fly straight to Tunisia from his base in the US, withdrew from the team at the eleventh hour due to illness.
Withdrawal by Garanganga paved the way for promising South Africa-based top junior tennis player Tendai Tapfuma to make his debut.
The other team members already in Tunisia are US-based Benjamin Lock and South Africa-based Mark Fynn while Freeman Nyamunokora is the non-playing captain.
Tennis Zimbabwe administrator Cliff Nhokwara confirmed Garanganga’s withdrawal from the tournament adding it was an opportunity for young Tapfuma to be recognised.
“Garanganga notified us that he will not be able to travel to Tunisia due to illness. We are, however, yet to be furnished with the full details of his illness as the notification came to us very late. Takanyi has been replaced by Tendai Tapfuma, who will have an opportunity to prove his worth, as he is on the verge of joining the senior ranks,” said Nhokwara.
Garanganga becomes the second key member of the side to withdraw from the tournament after former Davis Cup player Genius Chidzikwe, who had been named the non-playing captain, withdrew due to other commitments.
Zimbabwe, who now face a tall order to be promoted from the lowest rung of professional tennis, are in Group A, together with the hosts Tunisia, Namibia and Ghana while Group B has Algeria, Benin, Ivory Coast and Kenya.
Zimbabwe were scheduled to pay Tunisia in their opening match at the Cite Nationale Sportive d’El in Tunis yesterday.