By Ellina Mhlanga
The Zimbabwe Davis Cup tennis team’s captain, Gwinyai Tongoona, has retained the same players that beat Turkey in the Europe/Africa Group II first round as they head into the second round where they will face Poland. The tie against Poland is scheduled for April 7 and 8 in Sopot, Poland.
Tongoona maintained the same team which has Takanyi Garanganga, Benjamin Lock, Mark Chigaazira and Mehluli Sibanda.
United States-based Courtney Lock and Tadiwa Chinamo, who were part of the initial squad announced ahead of the first tie, are not available for selection again because of college commitments.
“It’s the same people because the other guys they are completing their studies, so they cannot be released because it’s the end of the school year, so they cannot come out.
“So it’s the same four guys,” said Tongoona.
Tongoona had to build his team around Garanganga and Lock in the last encounter against Turkey and it seems it’s going to be the same again for the upcoming tie with the two coming in as the most experienced players.
“Well, at the moment, it looks like the same two guys will play because they have been playing on tours, they have been playing tournaments.
“I think Takanyi played a couple of Challengers and then he took a bit of a break, Benji is playing in Egypt.
“So in terms of match preparation and being ready for matches those will be in a better position than the two younger guys. But we will see when we are there, we will see as we train during the week, how it goes, how everyone is feeling and then we will make our decisions from there.
“It’s not that they (Chigaazira and Sibanda) are weak but probably it’s experience and match fitness . . . that will be a slight difference.
“Being a Davis Cup tie, the pressure is also higher. But the whole team that we have, the four guys are capable of playing and performing,” Tongoona said.
Zimbabwe beat Turkey 3-1 last month at Harare Sports Club to secure their place in Group II.
Going into this tie against Poland in the second round, Zimbabwe will be hoping for another positive result that would see them progressing to the third round where they will play for promotion into Europe/Africa Group I.
Poland’s team will be led by captain Radoslaw Szymanik, number one player Hubert Hurkacz, Kamil Majchrzak, Michal Przysiezny, Lukasz Kubot (ranked number 1 in the doubles) and Marcin Matkowski.
Zimbabwe are ranked 57 and Poland 68.
However, in terms of individual rankings, the Polish team have a bit of an edge over their opponents as their number one player Hurkacz is ranked 178 while Garanganga is 487.
Tongoona and the pair of Chigaazira and Sibanda are set to leave for Poland on Monday.
Garanganga and Lock will join them in Poland.