By Ellina Mhlanga
Zimbabwe’s under-14 boys tennis team at the African Junior Teams championships will be hoping for to go a gear up when the event gets underway tomorrow in Hammamet, Tunisia. The trio of Ethan Sibanda, Michael Happy and Benedict Badza left for Tunisia last week where they also took part in the ITF/CAT African Junior tournament 14-and-Under, which was a warm-up event ahead of the championships starting tomorrow.
And, from the warm-up event that ran from Thursday to yesterday, Sibanda had the best performance finishing overall fifth in a draw of 32.
Sibanda reached the quarter-finals and lost, before he went on to play in the consolation draw for positioning.
Badza and Happy lost in the first round of the main draw.
They came out 23rd and 25th after the consolation matches.
As the main tournament begins tomorrow, coach Miracle Matanga, who is with the team in Tunisia, believes the warm-up tournament gave them a good platform to work on their game and challenged the young players to give it their best.
“They had quite a rough start in the first tournament considering the travel arrangements. We came in late and they were tired in their first matches.
“Now they are a bit settled, we have two practice sessions a day apart from the matches. So they are a bit settled now and hopefully they are going to give it their best in the tournament,” said Matanga.
With South Africa, Algeria, Morocco and hosts Tunisia part of the participating countries, Matanga said it’s not going to be easy.
“It’s not going to be easy but I actually strongly believe with them giving us their best they can actually cause some upsets.
“The North African countries dominate, they play well also considering that even in their countries they play on clay court which is different from playing on hardcourt which we play on.
“So there has been a lot of adjustments, hopefully, they will give us their best,” added Matanga.
Matanga said the warm-up event also gave them the opportunity to earn CAT points for future tournaments.