BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
ZIMBABWE tennis ace Benjamin Lock is buzzing after he bagged a historic first ATP Challenger Tour tournament, teaming up with American Evan King at Lancetown International in Tasmania, Australia last week.
Lock joins the illustrious list of legendary Zimbabwean tennis players such Byron and Wayne Black as well as Kevin Ullyett to have won an ATP Challenger Tour event as he continues his steady rise on the pro ranks.
It was a victory that saw Lock jump 70 places on the doubles rankings to 232 in the world and now the 26-year-old Zimbabwean tennis star is now looking go on to make it on to the ATP Tour.
“It’s unbelievable to win a challenger tournament, it was my third final and I had lost two of them in three 10 point tie breakers so I really wanted this one and it’s a huge breakthrough win,” Lock said in an interview with Standardsport.
“I don’t know the last time a Zimbabwean won a Challenger event, I am sure it was between Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett so to be up on the winners’ list with Kevin, Byron and Wayne black is a huge honour. I am happy that my name will be a piece of history in Zimbabwe. I hope it gives inspiration to all the other players that it can be done,” Lock added.
The older of the two Lock brothers, Benjamin won seven doubles titles on the ITF Men’s World Tennis Tour (formerly known as Futures Circuit) last year, six of them playing alongside his young brother Courtney Lock.
Lock reckons it was belief that gave him the breakthrough he desperately needed.
“Every tournament I enter I tell myself that I am going to win the event no matter what tournament it is but you don’t expect to win. You have to take each round as it comes and all of a sudden you find yourself in the final with a match point and there is your opportunity, so I believed I would do it but I didn’t expect it,” he said.
Lock’s dream is to play in Grand Slam tournaments one day and possibly win won before he retires.
The Lancetown International was a major stride towards achieving his dreams but what target did he set himself for this particular year?
“I want to play consistently well. I felt last year there were some weeks that I played really good and some that I played very badly. I want to try and limit that as much as possible.
“I want to play the right way continually because that is going to get me to where you want to be. My goals this year are performance oriented and if I continue the way I am playing, big things lie ahead for me.
“Obviously I want to solidify myself on the Challenger Tour and be playing ATP events as well which is a huge goal of mine. In the meantime I want to get fitter, stronger, playing better and staying focused,” Lock said.
Lock is set to get the opportunity to celebrate his success with home fans when Zimbabwe host Syria in a Davis Cup World Group II play-off tie in Harare next month.
“I am excited for Davis Cup I love to play at home. Davis Cup is by far our best week of the year and we are very excited. I would love to see many people attend because there is going to be some great tennis and we have a very strong team,” he said.
Lock is one of the key players in Zimbabwe’s Davis Cup team together with his young brother Courtney, Takanyi Garanganga and Mehluli Sibanda.