THE $9 million Dairibord Zimbabwe Open tennis championship gets under way at Harare Sports Club tomorrow.
tournament will also feature players from Kenya, Zambia and Malawi.
The sponsorship from Dairibord makes the extravaganza the richest local tournament on the tennis calendar.
Tennis enthusiasts will be looking to the Zimbabwe Open to drown their sorrows after Zimbabwe’s 5-0 drubbing in the Davis Cup by Israel in Tel Aviv last month.
The loss meant Zimbabwe have to play Italy in an Euro-Africa Zone Group One tie in September.
This year’s Zimbabwe Open might fail to sparkle. A cloud of uncertainty hung over the availability of some key players to illuminate the scene due to commitments elsewhere.
Former Davis Cup team member Martin Dzuwa is in Kenya where he is coaching and taking part in a number of events around Africa while Vusa Khonza-Majola is also out of the country.
Gwinyai Tongoona and last year’s losing finalist Zibusiso Ncube are doubtful for the tie.
Defending champion Genius Chidzi-kwe and his Davis Cup compatriot Tongoona are on tour in Nigeria.
Yet there is so much to play for in this tournament following the review of prize money. The winner in the men’s single finals will walk away $600 000 richer – $350 000 more than what Chidzikwe picked up last year.
In the women’s category, a $360 000 cheque awaits the winner.
This year Tsitsi Masviba is tipped to triumph in the absence of Fadzai Mawisire who won the event last year.
Mawisire is taking part in the Time Bank ITF South/Central African junior circuit which moves from Zimbabwe to Zambia next week.