Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
JUNIOR tennis players who were hoping to compete at New Winners tournament, which is usually the first competition of the year locally, will have to wait a little bit longer as the event has been deferred to December. The tournament featuring juniors from Under-10, Under-12, Under-14, Under-16 up to Under-18 was initially scheduled to start tomorrow at Harare Sports Club but Tennis Zimbabwe administrator Cliff Nhokwara yesterday said they have been forced to move the tournament to the end of the year because of a poor response.
“We are deferring the tournament to December. It was supposed to start on Wednesday but we received very few entries so it’s not very economic and challenging for the kids to run an event with few players.
“You find that in some age-groups we have no entries and in some there are three or four entries. “We, however, had another provisional date on our calendar which is December, so it’s now in December.
“January has always been a challenge because of the holidays, most people will be away particularly the first week of January. When people return from the holidays they will be focused on preparing to go back to school,” said Nhokwara. Nhokwara said since they did not have a lot of activities in December they are expecting the tournament to fit in well and attract more players.
“December we didn’t have a lot of activities because we had moved our activities to January. So we are moving back to December and see what happens. Obviously, we had a lot of kids going to South Africa during that period because there were no activities locally. So we will tap from those players that were going to South Africa.
“And after exams we think it’s a better period for kids to refresh playing tennis than now when they are preparing to go back to school,” said Nhokwara.
The national association is now focusing on the players going to South Africa for the zonal qualifiers running from January 9 to 17. Zimbabwe will be represented by 12 players at the regional competition featuring Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 boys and girls.
The boys will be led by the Under-16 pair of Andrew Kunaka and Tanaka Chabata while Ethan Sibanda and Tinashe Taruberekera will fight for honours in the Under-14. Michael Happy and Bukhosi Moyo will compete in the Under-12. Beverly Matsiwe and Kimberly Kaome will represent the country in the Under-16 girls section.
Charlotte Zhuwakini and Vimbai Moyo will take part in the Under-14 age-group. Clare Machisa and Nicole Matukutire will participate in the Under-12.
The players going for the zonal qualifiers will be accompanied by Juliet Sibanda and George Dzinoreva as coaches.