Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter—
ZIMBABWE’S number one tennis player Takanyi Garanganga will be looking at getting his team off to a flying start in this weekend’s Euro/Africa Group II tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina when he takes on the visitors’ number two player Mirza Basic in the first singles match at Harare Sports Club today. Benjamin Lock, the Zimbabwe number two player, has a date with Eastern Europeans’ top star Damir Dzumhur in the second singles match of the day.
In tomorrow’s doubles, the Zimbabwe pair of returning veteran Wayne Black and Mark Fynn will take on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Basic and Tomislav Brkic before Sunday’s reverse singles matches.
Zimbabwe last hosted a Davis Cup tie in 2006 when they lost 1-4 to Norway in the Euro/Africa Group II at Harare Sports Club and today the competition returns to this part of the world for the first time in nine years.
This time around, the Zimbabwe Davis Cup team is being led by Garanganga, who is the top player, and with Lock, Mark Fynn and legend Black in their side, they return to the same venue this weekend hoping to write their own piece of history.
Zimbabwe earned promotion from the Euro/Africa Zone Group III to Euro/Africa Group II last year.
Garanganga said today’s opening singles match is important, not only to him, but also to the country that will be witnessing the return of the Davis Cup on the local scene after nearly a decade. It has also been 10 years since Black, who was part of a formidable cast that included his elder brother Byron and Kevin Ullyett, featured for Zimbabwe in the same tournament.
Today the onus to lead Zimbabwe’s bid lies with Garanganga and the tall United States-based player was relishing the opportunity.
“I want to just enjoy the challenge and the competition that I will have within that match, that’s what I am looking forward to. I mean it’s important to me regardless of everything else that surrounded Davis Cup and all that because these are some of the guys I have been seeing on the tour.
“So it’s good for me and obviously for the country too because some high-profile players are coming up from different parts of the world to play here in Zimbabwe. It will be important for the fans also, so it’s not just how important it is to me.
“I have never been in this situation before, so it will aid to my experience and how it feels tomorrow (today) will probably be different . . . but I am looking forward to it, obviously I am excited,” said Garanganga.
Zimbabwe’s non-playing captain Martin Dzuwa said the opening match between Garanganga and Basic will be crucial for the team.
“Looking at the draw, I am happy to have Takanyi going first. If we are able to take that one then I think it will give Benjy some confidence. And I think if Benjy plays well and confident enough we might go 2-0 up. But you never know we will see how it comes up tomorrow (today),” said Dzuwa.
Dzuwa said Tinotenda Chanakira, who was part of the team that got promoted last year, will remain part of the side as a reserve player after roping in Black to team-up with Fynn in the doubles.
The Zimbabwe captain Dzuwa said they are still trying to come up with a formidable doubles team hence the decision to engage Black.
“If you look at the team Tino is more of a singles player so I just needed a doubles pair but he deserves to be here. He (Chanakira) was part of the team that brought us here but unfortunately he is not in the top four.
“We are still searching for that doubles pair that’s why I brought in Wayne but we will see how the result is on Friday (today),” said Dzuwa.
Bosnia and Herzegovina captain, Amer Delic expressed confidence in his young team and said today’s matches will set the tone for the tie.
“Friday is very important obviously you kind of set the tone for the weekend. Our number two player is playing Takanyi, who is number one obviously but we feel good.
“We obviously know that this is the first time in a long time that Zimbabwe is playing at home and so I am sure these guys have a lot on their shoulders, there is lot of pressure too for them. So we feel comfortable with the way our guys are playing and we think that we can match the energy and I think that’s going to be the key tomorrow, starting off early first match.
“I am sure everybody is going to be nervous even I will be nervous sitting on the chair but you know that’s the beauty of it and that’s why you have three out of five sets to battle it out. So I think the fans are going to enjoy it and I am sure the guys are going to give it their best,” said Delic.
Delic, however, said they are not relying much on their rankings and experience as he noted that Davis Cup is a tricky competition.
“We have been in this group since 2009. Before then we were in Group II. So we have had some experience in this Group but you know it doesn’t matter experience or not, all these new guys are always coming up and it’s always tough.
“It’s definitely young guys that have some big weapons and we are counting on that. It’s obvious Zimbabwe have lot more experience with Black who I have known when I was starting out in the tour, so he is a legend and his experience obviously is going to be key but we feel comfortable with our guys and like I said they have a lot of weapons and hope they are going to use it on Saturday in the doubles.”
Takanyi Garanganga v Mirza Basic (10am).
Immediately followed by
Benjamin Lock v Damir Dzumhur.
Wayne Black/Mark Fynn v Mirza Basic/Tomislav Brkic (11am).
Singles Reverse Matches
Takanyi Garanganga v Damir Dzumhur (10am).
Immediately followed by
Benjamin Lock v Mirza Basic.