Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE eighth edition of the annual Tarryn-Leigh De Souza Junior Memorial Tennis Tournament started in Bulawayo yesterday, with 110 aspiring tennis stars registering for the event.
Bulawayo Athletic Club (BAC), Bulawayo Country Club and Girls College are playing host to the juniors’ tournament, which is open to Under-10s, 12s, 14s and 18s players and ends tomorrow.
Most players participating in the Tarryn-Leigh De Souza Junior Memorial Tennis Tournament took part in the Bulawayo Open competition that ended on Monday.
Tanaka Chabata, winner of the Bulawayo Open Under-18 boys’ singles title, Natalia-Lee Antikowiak, who won the Under-18 girls’ trophy, boys’ Under-14 winner Happy Michael and Victoria Sasinka, who came tops in the girls’ Under-14 category, are all taking part in the tournament.
“Just like the Bulawayo Open, the Tarryn-Leigh De Souza Junior Memorial Tennis Tournament is a circuit competition where all participants will accumulate points which will be used for national rankings. We have 110 participants, which is an impressive attendance, and we’re looking forward to an interesting competition,” said Rags Chikunichawa, the Bulawayo Metropolitan Tennis Board chairman.
In 2010, Tennis Zimbabwe turned the Tarryn-Leigh De Souza Memorial tournament into a national competition to be used for national player rankings.
The tournament is meant to celebrate the life of De Souza, one of the best players to come out of Bulawayo who died in 2009 due to heart failure.
Tarryn-Leigh represented Matabeleland and Zimbabwe in a number of tournaments at the age of 18 when she was ranked third in the country.
She won a scholarship to play and study at Oklahoma Christian University in the United States in 2003 and at the time she was one of the top female players in the land.
Tarryn-Leigh’s mother Beverly said her daughter’s love for tennis drove them to bankroll the competition.
“Everyone is happy with the turnout and hopefully this competition will achieve its objective of developing talent, a vision that Tarryn-Leigh had on her return from the United States. She wanted to help up-and-coming tennis players and as a family we’re very much pleased that the tournament is one of the major events on the Tennis Zimbabwe calendar. We’re also happy that as a family we’re contributing towards shaping athletes’ future,” Beverly said.
Some youngsters that impressed at the just ended Bulawayo Open include green ball girls’ singles winner Kudzai Chapepa and the boys’ champion Makanaka Whata.
Tamiranashe Shoko and Sasha Chimedza, who were crowned Bulawayo Open Under-12 girls’ doubles champions and Under-18 girls’ winners Tsitsi Mahere and Charlotte Zhuwakini, are expected to go all the way to the final.