By Ellina Mhlanga
RISING star Mehluli Sibanda had a positive start in the second tournament of the ongoing International Tennis Federation Old Mutual Series at Harare Sports Club when he won his first round match against Tukhula Jacobs of Namibia yesterday.
Sibanda beat Jacobs in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 to proceed to the second round.
After reaching the semi-finals last week, Sibanda will be hoping for another fruitful week.
However, it was a different case for Takanyi Garanganga, seeded third for this tournament, as he lost to Richard Thongoana of South Africa 2-6, 3-6.
In the doubles, the pair of Tanaka Chabata and Brandon Levendale also found the going tough with a 2-6, 4-6 defeat against Anurag Nenwani and Aron Pierce.
Tournament director Cliff Nhokwara said they had more entries in the qualifiers, which ran from Saturday to Monday, compared to last week when they were held over two days.
“This week the finals are on Sunday. They were too many entries for the qualifiers, so we had three days of qualifiers,” said Nhokwara.
With most of the players having settled after the first tournament last week and a few more new entries from Argentina, England and the United States entering for this week’s event, it’s likely to raise the standard of the competition.
“We have another player (Matias Franco Descotte) who came from Argentina, who is number one now.
“There has been a few players from England and a few from America also coming.
“It’s tough, you will notice Takanyi already lost in the first round. Hopefully Courtney (Lock), Mehluli and Mark (Chigaazira) get points. Mehluli won a big match today (yesterday).
“There is hope looking at week one, Zimbabwe winning doubles, Zimbabwean players in the finals, Mehluli getting points, that’s one reason we host these tournaments, so that Zimbabwean players can benefit,” said Nhokwara.
Last week Benjamin Lock and his young brother Courtney won the doubles title.
Benjamin went on to claim the singles title when he beat fellow countryman Garanganga in the final.