Tennis prodigy Mariga makes waves in the US

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ZIMBABWEAN tennis player Taremeredzwa Mariga has spoken of his delight after becoming Seward County Community College’s first-ever recipient of the prestigious National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCCA) All-American award in his first season.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

The 20-year-old rising star had a sensational season for the Kansas-based college, racking up 14 wins and just two defeats while also reaching the final of the NJCAA National Championship.

Mariga, whose 87,5 winning percentage was best on the team in singles action, was equally as effective in doubles, going 13-4 with partner Paul Arslanian, which was also a team best.

“This was my first year playing for my school Seward County Community College and first year playing the NJCCA National Tournament. It was an amazing feeling to have played a great week of tennis at the NJCCA National Tournament and winning all the tough matches before the final,” Mariga said in an interview with NewsDay from his US base yesterday.

“Achieving the NJCAA All-American Award is beyond amazing, it’s just simply a special feeling of its own. What makes it extra special is that I am the first male tennis player at Seward County Community College to have achieved this prestigious award in the school’s history,” said the former Hillcrest College student.

Mariga, who is a product of the Mantas Tennis Academy, made a historic run at the NJCAA National Tournament despite being seeded fifth.

After a first round bye, he cruised to three straight sets wins in a row to become the first player in the programme history to play for an NJCAA National Championship.

Mariga battled top-seeded Shaquille Taylor tooth and nail, but in the end came up just short in a three-set defeat.

Despite the loss, Mariga’s second place finish was not only good enough for the best mark in school history, but also good enough to become Seward’s first ever NJCAA All-American.

Mariga, who is one of two Zimbabweans at Seward County Community College together with fellow Mantas Tennis Academy product Ronzai Saurombe, says he was introduced to the sport at the age of four.

“My uncle introduced me to tennis when I was four years old,” Mariga said. “He would take me to play on weekends, and at age six, he handed me to the Mantas Tennis Academy to train further.”

After a fairly successful career on the local junior circuit, Mariga would later embark on an international career after earning a tennis scholarship to play for Seward County Community College. Mariga, who is majoring in Computer Information, hopes to transfer to a four-year university in the US to complete his bachelor’s degree after his stint at Seward County.