ZIMBABWEAN tennis players will have a rare opportunity to earn crucial world ranking points on home soil when they serve off in the main draw for the Twenty Third Century Systems Futures Tournament at Harare Sports Club’s hard outdoor courts this morning.
This week’s Twenty Third Century Systems Futures Tournament will be immediately followed up by the NetOne Futures Tournament set for the same venue from October 20-25.
The singles main draw for the Twenty Third Century Systems Futures Tournament runs from tomorrow up to Saturday while the main draw for the doubles where 16 pairs are expected is scheduled for tomorrow to Friday.
Futures events fall under the ITF Men’s Circuit and represent the lowest entry tournament for upcoming professional tennis players looking to earn ATP ranking points for them to progress onto the ATP Challenger Tour and ultimately the full ATP World Tour.
In the absence of the US-based duo of Takanyi Garanganga and Benjamin Lock, Davis Cup tennis player Mark Fynn will carry the nation’s hopes as he heads into the two tournaments as the country’s highest ranked player on position 994.
The 29-year-old Fynn together with the unranked Tinotenda Chanakira were the only Zimbabwean players who qualified directly into the main draw of the tournament while the duo of Martin Dzuwa and Miracle Matanga were handed wild card entries.
Lucca Picci and Dereck Manaya still had a chance of making the draw via the qualifying rounds.
Netherlands’ Boy Westerhof, who is ranked 256th in the world will be the strong favourite to dominate this week’s Twenty Third Century Systems Futures Tournament as he is the highest ranked player in the field.
His countryman Antal van der Duim is the second highest ranked player in the field at number 295 ahead of the South African trio of Ruan Roelofse (477) Tucker Vorster (480) and Nicolaas Scholtz (490).
Another South African Keith-Patrick Crowley, the runner-up at the 2012 edition of the same tournament which was won by Garanganga will also be a dark horse for the coveted title.
The two local companies NetOne and Twenty Third Century Systems last week unveiled $50 000 sponsorship package for the two tournaments with $30 000 going towards the prize money.