TOP Zimbabwe-born coach Brian de Villiers has backed Zimbabwe’s number one tennis player Takanyi Garanganga to break into the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour following a promising season on the second tier ATP Challenger Tour.
The ATP World Tour is the top tier of men’s tennis ahead of the Challenger Tour events, which are the second highest level of competition, and the Futures Circuit — the third and final tier of international professional competition.
Garanganga won five titles on the Futures Circuit — four of them in Turkey and one in Zimbabwe — between 2012 and 2013 before making the leap to Challenger Tour events at the start of the year.
The Mbare-born star has adjusted well to the transition, managing to reach the quarterfinals in two Challenger Tour events in Hawaii and most recently in Mexico.
The Bulawayop-born De Villiers, who reunited with Garanganga at the start of the year, having worked with him as a junior player, said the 23-year-old would soon reach the highest level if he continues doing well.
“We have been working on shifting Takanyi’s mindset from Futures to the ATP where he absolutely belongs,” de Villiers told NewsDay Sport from his base in the US.
“All of his scheduling is only on Challengers and ATP Tour events. This is where he’s really going to make his leap to the top tier, through belief, experience and never-ending high quality competition.
“Each week is tough and he has the tools to navigate this terrain well, it’s just a matter of keeping him immersed out there.”
De Villiers, who has worked with American female player Melanie Oudin — the former world junior number two and 2009 US Open quarter-finalist — said Garanganga was improving each time he steps onto the court.
“Technically, Takanyi’s game is improving every time he’s on the court. He’s understanding his game, strengths and utilising them more consistently,” de Villiers said.
“He’s going to take some knocks out there, but the way he responds is imperative to his development. It’s an exciting time for Team Garaz and Zimbabwe tennis again.”
Garanganga recently achieved his highest ever singles ranking after jumping an impressive 41 places on the ATP world rankings from position 349 to 308.
In an interview with NewsDay Sport from his US base, Garanganga said he was working on being more consistent in the upcoming clay court season on the ATP World Tour.
“I had a good pre-season physically and my body feels in good shape at the moment,” he said.
“I managed a couple (of) great wins recently, but have not been able to dominate the whole week which is the main goal.
“So, it’s basically still work in progression. I’m hoping to be more consistent in the near future with ATP tour events.
“I really appreciate all the support I’ve received, especially from the people back home, it means so much to my team and I.”