ZIMBABWE’S tennis player Benjamin Lock got the year underway with a huge step in his professional career when he took part in the Delray Beach Open, an ATP World Tour 250 series men’s professional tournament.
It was his debut in an ATP 250 tournament, taking part in the qualifiers as he makes strides towards pushing his professional career to the next level.
He lost 2-6, 3-6 to Kevin King of the USA in the qualifiers.
The tournament is running until January 13 in the United States.
But for Lock, inspite of the loss, it is the experience and taking that step to take his career to the next stage that matters.
Speaking ahead of the match that was scheduled for late Tuesday, Lock said he was really happy after all the hard work he has put in over the years.
“So really happy to be playing my first ATP 250 event of my career it makes (an) amazing start to the year.
“You can’t ask for a better start and playing in a tournament like this can have huge impacts on your career. It’s a massive opportunity and to have the overall experience of playing at this level is huge,” said Lock.
While he had hoped to win the match, he said he would want to use the tournament as a platform and stepping stone to the next level.
Lock, who is a member of the Zimbabwe Davis Cup team, has been making some positive progress on his career. He has won number of ITF World Tennis Tour singles and doubles titles.
He won his first ATP Challenger Tour tournament early last year when he teamed up with United States’ Evan King at the Launceston International to win the doubles final in Australia.
Last November he was invited as a guest player at the Acers Tennis Open in Eswatini and he emerged the winner in the tournament.
His coach Freeman Nyamunokora, who is based here in Zimbabwe, described the move by Lock as a big achievement.
“It is the first time, it’s a great achievement. Taking part in the event, it’s a milestone in Benji’s career.
“And from yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) match he has got the level. Almost all the games got to deuce and it was just a difference of who converted the break points. Out of the five break points, Benji managed to convert only one and the other guy managed to break four, which made the difference.
“So I would say the level is there but like I said it’s tough for Benji to be out there on his own now because, look you are competing with guys who have got a team, who are getting lots of help technically on Tour.
“Prior to the matches you sit down and strategise with someone but at the moment he is doing all this on his own. But I would say it is a good start to the year and we look forward to a better year in upcoming events for Benji,” Nyamunokora said. Lock is set to continue training in the United States while looking for other upcoming events he can take part in. “At the moment he is going to be training in the United States whilst we look out for the next event.
“Hopefully we can get somewhere where we can play Challengers or another opportunity to play a qualifier in the ATP. We are looking for big events, big matches now, it’s that time in Benji’s career,” added Nyamunokora.
With Zimbabwe set to host China in March in the rescheduled Davis Cup World Group II tie, it is encouraging for other players with one of their members making some good progress.