ZIMBABWE’S top-ranked female junior tennis player Nicole Dzenga is confident of doing well during the three back-to-back International Tennis Federation (ITF) 18-and-Under South Central Circuit tournaments which get underway today.
The first tournament, a Grade Four event on the international junior tennis calendar, gets underway this morning at the Tennis Zimbabwe Centre at Harare Sports Club, with the finals being played on Saturday.
Dzenga, who is the top seed in the girls’ competition, said she had been working hard in preparation for the high profile tournaments which run until August 15.
The 17-year-old rising star played at the Wanders Junior ITF in South Africa last week in preparation for the upcoming tournaments, reaching the quarter-finals in both the singles and doubles competitions.
“Well, I’ve been practising hard,” told NewsDay Sport in an interview yesterday.
“Obviously I have played in some ITF tournaments in South Africa to prepare for the upcoming tournaments in Zimbabwe and I’m feeling good about my game. I didn’t have a great week on the circuit in South Africa last week, but I’m playing good tennis and I will definitely try my best to do well during the home tournaments.”
Dzenga, who is the top-ranked player in the girls’ competition on number 256 in the world, conceded that she will likely face stiff competition from her North African rivals.
The Egyptian duo of Habiba Lasheen and Laila Elnimr are seeded second and third respectively, followed by Japan’s Natsumi Okamoto and American Summer Garrison.
“I’m definitely going to try and win, but there are a lot of tough girls coming — especially from North Africa. They’re going to be my biggest hurdle, but I’m not going to worry about whether I win or lose. As long as I do my best and play well, I’ll be happy about my game,” she said.
Meanwhile, the country’s top male junior Courtney Lock also promised to lift the country’s flag high in the boys’ competition where he is also the top seed.
Lock, who has been slowly steeping out the shadows of his older brother, Florida based Davis Cup player Benjamin, is the highest ranked male player on position 211 in the world.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the Zim tourneys. Obviously, I am hoping to go all the way. I got some match practice up here in South Africa because I really want to do well at home and leave my mark. It’s a tough tournament with lots of foreigners, but I am hoping to go all the way,” Lock said.
A total of 95 players drawn from 32 countries around the world had entered the three ITF Grade Four tournaments which run until August 15.
After the first of the back-to-back tournaments which starts today, the players will also take part in the second tournament which takes place at the same venue from August 4 to 9 before the third and final leg to run from August 11 to 15.