BY FORTUNE MBELE
LOCAL junior tennis players got off to a good start in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) J5 Bulawayo 2021 Tennis Tournament which started on Monday at Bulawayo Country Club.
It is an ITF under-18 competition where the players, among other things, target improving their international rankings.
The tournament is currently underway with junior tennis sensation Kudzai Chapepa (13), who is not ITF-ranked, getting the better of 15-year Egyptian Joody Elkady 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the first round of the tournament.
Elkady is ranked 2 248 in the ITF junior rankings as of May 24.
Chapepa was yesterday due to play the tournament’s top seed, 17-year-old Suzanie Pretorius in the second round.
Pretorius beat Zimbabwean Hailey Banda 6-1, 6-0.
Other girls who progressed to the second round include Sasha Chimedza (14), who is ranked 1359 internationally and beat compatriot Tadisa Chamisa 6-1, 7-6 and was due to face Botswana’s Oriane Raguin (14) in the second round.
Raguin beat unranked Zimbabwean Mutsawashe Musiyiwa (14), 6-0, 6-0.
Third seed in the competition Tadiwanashe Mauchi (15) and ranked 909; powered past Zambian Jennipher Mugala 6-1, 6-1 and was due to play fellow Zimbabwean Nicole Matukutire (16) in the second round after the latter also rolled past South African Sophia Fuller 6-1, 6-2.
Julie Tungamirai (15), seeded nine in the tournament and ranked 1658, beat fellow Zimbabwean Tanatsva Tanyongana 6-1, 6-4 and she was due for a second-round battle with Koronayashe Rugara of the United States of America who beat another local Claire Machisa 6-3, 6-3.
The boys did not disappoint either with Ethan Denzel Sibanda (16), the third seed of the competition cruising to the second round with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over South African Jayden Pakkiri in the first round.
Sibanda is ranked 414 in the juniors internationally.
Tournament fourth seed Taona Mwandagara, who is ranked 698, also went through to the second round after beating South African Thio Tshivhase 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 while seventh-seeded Benedict Badza (920) beat Namibia’s Daniel Jauss 7-5, 6-2 to sail through.
The other player who went through is Lyle Zaloumis (949) and is seeded number nine.
Zaloumis beat South African Daniel Crowie 6-1, 1-6, 7-6.
Shane Tapera also pulled through with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Serbian Marko Miilosavljevic.
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