Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S representatives at the ITF/CAT Southern African Junior Championships concluded their participation with the girls Under-16 and Under-14 teams coming second after they lost their final matches on Tuesday in Gaborone, Botswana. The championships target Under-14s and Under-16s boys and girls competing in individual and team events.

Zimbabwe had a 12-member team at the event and their best performer was Nicole Matukutire who won the girls Under-14 title.

And as the participating nations fought for honours in the team events this week, Zimbabwe had a promising campaign with the girls Under-14 and Under-16 reaching the finals. But they found the going tough against South Africa with the Under-14 side going down 1-2 while the Under-16s lost 0-3.

The Under-14 team was made up of Claire Machisa, Ruvarashe Shoko and Matukutire. They teamed up for the two singles matches and doubles with Matukutire beating Janse Heike 6-3, 6-4 while Machisa lost to Line Greyling 3-6, 3-6. They were then defeated 0-6, 2-6 in the doubles by the pair of Heike and Naledi Manyube to lose 2-1.

Zimbabwe had won 3-0 in the semi-finals against Botswana, but could not maintain the momentum going into the finals. It was the same script for the girls Under-16 as the trio of Rufaro Magarira, Tsitsi Mahere and Vimbai Moyo found the going tough when they lost 0-3 to South Africa, who once again proved their dominance over Zimbabwe.

Magarira lost 6-4, 4-6, (5-10) in a match that had to be decided by a super tie break while Mahere suffered a 4-6, 4-6 defeat at the hands of Jessica Portwig. Mahere then teamed-up with Moyo for the doubles and they lost 2-6, 2-6, to come second behind South Africa.

One of the coaches accompanying the team, Farai Tapfuma said although the players did fairly well, they need more competitive events to match their counterparts in the region. “It was fairly good though we lost with close margins because of experience and we were disadvantaged that in our groups we did not have a rest day compared to South Africa.

“Like I said earlier on we need to invest in more competitive match play,” said Tapfuma. The boys Under-14 and Under-16 teams both came fifth in their respective age-groups. The Under-14 boys team was made up of Lyle Zaloumis, Tinaye Badza and Michael Happy while Tinashe Taruberekera, Zamani Moyo and Taona Mhwandagara represented the country in the Under-16 age-group.

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