Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
THE New Winners tennis tournament took off yesterday in Harare with Zimbabwe’s representatives for the ITF/CAT Southern Africa Junior championships putting up some good performances as they make their final touches for the regional event starting next week. The three-day tournament attracted around 150 players, competing from Under-10 to Under-18 at Harare Sports Club and Old Hararians.
For most of the players this being the first local tournament for the year, it’s an opportunity to check their readiness for regional and international tournaments lined up for the year. And some of the zonal championships’ team members to play in Botswana next week are taking advantage of the competition to fine tune their preparations.
In the girls section Claire Machisa, who will represent the country in the girls Under-14 beat Rumbidzai Sachiti 6-0, 6-0 in the Under-18 quarter-finals yesterday. She had a bye in the first round and believes taking on the Under-18s will only put her in a better position come the zonal championships.
“I think I really want to work hard so that I can win and then also play hard so that I can get training for zonals. I have been training so hard with my coach, coach Gwinyai (Tongoona) and with my friends (we had) practice matches, with Rufaro Magarira and Tsitsi Mahere,” said Machisa.
The 13-year-old is looking beyond the zonals as she holds high hopes of qualifying for the African Junior Championships during the zonals. Top seed for girls Under-18 Rufaro Magarira beat Primrose Tayambuka 6-0, 6-0. This is also part of her build-up for the zonals where she will represent the country in the Under-16 age-group.
“It’s (the tournament) okay because it’s also practice matches and everything, so it’s good. I am just going to do my best. Maybe try and reach the semi-finals, quarters. I am really happy to be representing Zimbabwe at the zonals,” said Magarira.
It was the same story for Tsitsi Mahere as she dismissed Elizabeth Kuona 6-1, 6-1. Boys Under-14 representative Benedict Badza beat Marko Milosavljevic 7-6(3), 6-0 and hopefully they continue with the good run to boost their confidence ahead of next week’s event which targets Under-14 and Under-16 boys and girls.
It was also a good start for the Under-18 girls second seed Beverly Matsiwe as she beat Deborah Mhizha 6-0, 6-1. Nandi Munyulwa was also not to be outdone when she overpowered Natalie Mandidewa 6-2, 6-2.
The boys section saw Stanley Muneri beating Conroy Gatsi 6-1, 6-1 in his opening match while Kudakwashe Sandi dismissed Panashe Gurira 6-0, 6-0. James Makaranga also had a good start defeating Munyaradzi Musanhi 7-6(7), 6-3.
In the Under-14 boys Emmanuel Mupanduki dismissed Tinaye Tongoona 6-0, 6-0 in straight sets. Thompson Tomu beat Godfrey Nathan 6-1, 6-0 and Takunda Gara proved to be too good for Nigel Nyamugonekwa with 6-0, 6-0 victory in the boys Under-12.
It was also an interesting start for Ruvarashe Magarira when she defeated Natasha Chidzvondo 6-0, 6-1 in the girls Under-12 to proceed to the next round. The tournament runs until tomorrow.