Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
IT was another exciting day yesterday for second seed Mehluli Sibanda when he sailed through to the semi-finals of the International Tennis Federation 18-and-Under South Central third leg after beating Gerhardt Marius Becker at Harare Sports Club.
Sibanda breezed into the semi-finals with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Becker of South Africa and will meet third seed Lleyton Cronje in the last four today. The South Africa-based player is the only Zimbabwean still in action after Kimberly Bhunu suffered a 6-3, 6-1 defeat at the hands of Canada’s Tiffany Lagarde in the girls section.
Bhunu had on Tuesday put up a brilliant performance to upset seventh seed Zara Lennon of Mauritius but could not repeat the same feat yesterday.
After his victory in the singles, Sibanda teamed-up with Sheil Kotecha of Kenya in the doubles semi-finals to beat the pair of Pierre Malan and Charl Morgan 7-5, 5-7, 10-5, to storm into the final.
Sibanda and Kotecha had to dig deep in a closely-contested match that could have gone either way with some good tennis on display.
“It always feels good to win obviously and I played good this morning in the singles but didn’t play too well in the doubles. We missed a lot of the easy shots but I am happy we got through it.
“I have played the guy (Cronje) the last two weeks but it was always tough so I have to recover properly today, so that I can play better tomorrow,” said Sibanda.
For Sibanda, it’s likely to be his last international juniors tournament at home since this is his last year in this age-group. “Obviously I want to win it (being the) last one at home but it’s going to be tough. I have to focus match by match,” Sibanda said.
In the doubles final Sibanda and Kotecha will face Zyaan Ahmed and Emile Hudd from Great Britain who beat Becker and Christiaan Worst 6-4, 7-5 in the other semi-final.
Sibanda’s doubles partner Kotecha is hopeful they will continue with their good run after they won the doubles final last week. “It was a really tough match, I mean we were playing two good players and they were solid at the net so it was tough from the beginning and I am happy that we were able to get through it.
“It’s been really fun, we played last week as well and we won the tournament as well, so it’s been fun. “It’s obviously going to be a tough match. We are playing two guys from Great Britain and they are playing really good and it’s going to be really tough,” Kotecha said.
The doubles finals are on this afternoon after the singles semi-finals set for the morning.