ZIMBABWE’S tennis players who participated at the Under-16 Zone Six Africa Junior Championship (AJC) in Botswana have all qualified for the continental finals.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
The Under-16 AJC finals expected to run from March 12 to 22 will be held in Nairobi, Kenya. The eight — Tadiwa Chinamo and Julius Mtetwa (Under-16 boys), Rufaro Chirewa and Karen Machisa (Under-16 girls), Kim Bhunu and Bev Matsiwe (Under-14 girls), Dennis Moses and Tanaka Chabata (Under-14 boys) — survived the turbulence that characterised their preparations, helping Zimbabwe finish second behind South Africa.
Top eight players in each age group from each region qualify for the AJC finals. Three Under-12 players Vimbai Moyo, Charlotte Zhuwakinyu and Tatenda Mtetwa, also participated at the tournament and their points contributed towards the country’s final rating.
Tennis Zimbabwe (TZ) president Regis Bhunu expressed satisfaction with the performance of the team and said with more funding, they could do better.
“We have received a communique from International Tennis Federation [ITF] that all the youngsters have qualified. The kids performed extremely well considering what they went through. The fact that all our players managed to reach the quarter-final stage shows the level of talent in the country,” he said.
“They travelled almost 1 069km from Harare to Gaborone by bus because the parents could not afford airfares and arrived at 11pm with the games starting in the morning.”
Bhunu, however, appealed for financial assistance going into the AJC finals to be held in Kenya.
“There is so much talent, but the financial strain is getting heavy for the parents who have been supporting the kids all along. We are in desperate need for outside help financially and have to raise at least US$11 000 for the players and the coaches [Miracle Matanga and Nomvelo Ngwenya] to be in Kenya. Unlike Botswana where players travelled by bus, Kenya is a bit faraway,” he said.
“The cost of going to Kenya is just too much for the parents. Besides, we also need to raise almost US$15 000 for the players who will participate at next month’s Under-18 African Junior Championships tournament in Morocco,” he said.
Zimbabwe will be represented by Nicole Dzenga, Zarha Finnigan, Latifah Yasini and Karen Muswere in the girls’ category while Courtney Lock, Alwyn Mushonga, Luca Picci, Tadiwa Chinamo and Ngoni Makambwa will represent the nation in the boys’ category.