Tennis ace Lock delights in Davis Cup promotion

Eight Africa Group III teams met in Algeria to fight for the three places in the World Group and Zimbabwe won the final slot.

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE ZIMBABWE’S number one Davis Cup player Benjamin Lock has expressed his delight after helping the country make a quick return to the Davis Cup World Group II with come from behind victory over Namibia in the promotion playoff in Algeria last weekend.

Eight Africa Group III teams met in Algeria to fight for the three places in the World Group and Zimbabwe won the final slot.

Zimbabwe finished second in Pool A which also included Ivory Coast, Benin and Mozambique which was enough for them to compete for the third promotion slot with Pool B runners-up Namibia.

The Pool winners Ivory Coast and Morocco earned automatic qualification.

Lock who was the mainstay in Zimbabwe’s promotion bid, feels it was a massive achievement by the team.

“I think it’s huge for the country to be back so fast into the World Group II. Obviously, we had a very tough loss against El Salvador in March where the whole team played well, but we ended up not winning the tie so for us to back to Group III after seven years of playing on the World Group stage was quite tough mentally but we knew that if we could get promotion back into Group 2 as soon as possible,” the 29-year-old star told NewsDay Sport.

Lock reckons it was a difficult challenge for the team to grab one of the promotion slots despite going into the competition as one of the favourites.

“On the ground in Algeria, it was very difficult. On paper, it looked like we were clear favourites but there were a lot of good players there. The conditions were very difficult every single day it was 37 degrees on the court with humidity so it was very challenging and for us obviously, to play on clay. It’s a surface that we don’t have in Zimbabwe so it was another added challenge,” Lock said.

“But I think the team did great. We had a tough loss against Ivory Coast on the first day and the team hung together and we ended up playing some very good tennis to win the rest of our matches and be promoted back,” he added.

It was a winning start for non-playing captain Freeman Nyamunokora on his return to the team on the same role.

The Zimbabwe team included the Lock brothers Benjamin and Courtney as well as Mehluli Sibanda and Benedict Badza.

Zimbabwe began its campaign in Pool A with a defeat against Ivory Coast on Wednesday before they bounced back the following day to dismiss Benin and Mozambique for a second-place finish.

Pool B comprised Morocco hosts Algeria, Kenya and Namibia.

Morocco won the competition after beating Ivory Coast in the final of the four-day event while Kenya and Mozambique dropped down to Davis Cup Africa Group IV after losing the relegation playoffs against Algeria and Benin.

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