THE Zimbabwe Davis Cup team has been presented with a perfect chance to remain in the Euro/Africa Zone Group Two after Moldovan Tennis Federation (MTF) failed to assemble a strong squad for the playoff set for Harare Sports Club later this week.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
Zimbabwe host the Eastern European country from July 17 to 19 in a crucial playoff encounter which will decide who gets relegated to the less fashionable Group III.
Seemingly in crisis, Moldova has failed to acquire the services of their top player Radu Albot (25) who is ranked 108 in the professional men’s singles as he has opted to pursue ITF circuit competitions.
Moldova also suffered a major blow when one of their top players Maxim Dubarenco (22), who is ranked at 317, decided to give up his Moldovan citizenship, choosing to represent Belarus after a conflict with MTF over unpaid dues.
Dubarenco is understood to have been bitter over an amount of over US$3 000 he was owed by the federation following his participation in a Davis Cup encounter against Denmark late last year, according to Moldovan media.
With Adrei Ciumac and Alexader Cozbinov also unavailable, the MTF had to settle for a vastly inexperienced Under-21 side with Dmitry Baskov ranked 2030 in the world as their number one player.
Baskov (20) leads a four-man team which also includes Maxim Bulat (18), Adrei Soltoianu and Egor Matvievici (18) while Iurie Gorban is the non-playing captain.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Moldova team was scheduled to leave their country for Harare yesterday.
Meanwhile, morale is high in the Zimbabwe camp which has been boosted by the inclusion of two youngsters Courtney Lock (18), who reached the doubles finals of the ITF Futures at Harare Sports club alongside his brother Benjamin last week, as well as Tadiwa Chinamo (17) one of the brightest prospects of local tennis.
Martin Dzuwa, the non-playing captain, has decided to freshen up the team and give the two immensely talented starlets a debut senior appearance. Should Zimbabwe wrap up the match on the second day, one or both will feature in the singles dead rubbers on the final day.
Tennis Zimbabwe president Regis Bhunu hailed the move by selectors to include Lock and Chinamo in the senior team.
“It was a very good move by the selectors; it shows that we are looking into the future and we are preparing these talented young players to take over should any of the senior guys retire or is unavailable,” he said.
He added that it was TZ’s foremost target to make sure Zimbabwe remains in the Davis Cup Group II, especially considering the public interest that tennis has been generating in the country ever since the country hosted Bosnia and Herzegovina in March this year.
Zimbabwe number one player Takanyi Garanganga — ranked 391 — is the only player who is yet to join camp but is set to join the rest of the team in a couple of days.
Benjamin Lock, who has had a fantastic last six weeks on the ITF professional circuit with one title, a finalist finish in the doubles as well as two semifinal achievements, has had perfect fine-tuning for the Davis Cup encounter.
With Mark Fyn also part of the squad and Wayne black assisting in the background, Zimbabwe look set to steamroll past Moldova on home turf.