ZIMBABWE’S Valeria Bhunu won her maiden title on the ITF Women’s Futures Circuit after clinching the singles title at the Digicall F2 Futures tournament with a 6-4, 6-0 upset victory over the sixth seeded Katharina Hering of Germany at the Maties Tennis Club in Stellenbosch, South Africa, early this week.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The ITF Women’s Futures Circuit is a series of professional tennis tournaments for female professional tennis players, which serves as the developmental circuit for the WTA Tour.
Continuing with her steady progress in the professional ranks, the 20-year-old Bhunu, who was unseeded at the start of the tournament, needed just an hour and 13 minutes to capture her first Futures title.
“I started out nervously, in the first set. She [Hering] made me work for every point, but I kept on with my game plan. She changed her strategy in the second set, but that worked better for me and I don’t think she realised that,” said Bhunu, the daughter of Tennis Zimbabwe president, Regis Bhunu, after the match.
Bhunu, who has a world ranking of 1 007, started her giant-killing run by rallying from a set down to stun the tournament’s third seed, Jasmin Jebawy, ranked 605th in the world, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the opening round.
In the second round, Bhunu continued her brilliant form, cruising to a 6-0, 6-3 win over 22-year-old Lauren McMinn from Great Britain to set up a tough quarter-final clash with the fifth seeded American Jaeda Daniel, which she won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Germany’s Luisa Marie Huber won the first set 3-6 in the semi-finals, but Bhunu rallied back to win the next to sets 6-4 and 7-5 to storm into the final, where she comfortably defeated Hering.
Bhunu, who won the Zimbabwe Open title in 2010 aged only 15, is one of the country’s brightest prospects in women’s tennis together with Nicole Dzenga, who recently secured a tennis scholarship at the University of South Florida.