Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
LOCAL tennis players are set for a busy schedule next month as the country hosts two Old Mutual-sponsored International Tennis Federation Futures events at Harare Sports Club. The tournaments are scheduled to start on June 17 with the first running until June 23.
The second tournament is expected to take place from June 24 to 30.
Tennis Zimbabwe manager, Cliff Nhokwara, said they were looking forward to some interesting duels with players getting the opportunity to earn points for their rankings.
“The idea is for our local players to maximise an opportunity of getting world recognition by playing these events, especially in the main draw.
“If somebody gets a good week, good win, for all of next year they won’t have to play the qualifiers in smaller events.
“And, for our big boys like Takanyi (Garanganga) and Benji (Lock), such an event will create the opportunity for them to play in bigger tournaments like the Challengers,” said Nhokwara.
He said the Futures tournaments that have become a permanent feature on the TZ calendar since they resumed hosting the events in 2012 have generated a lot of interest within the tennis family.
“Indeed, it has generated a lot of interest, including from the old guys, even some coaches. So, the participation of some coaches also encourages the young players to participate in such events.
“We have the likes of Mehluli Sibanda, he got big wins last year, Mark Chigaazira took some points.
“It’s not necessarily everyone winning but getting a professional feel is helpful,” Nhokwara said.
Last year, Zimbabwe hosted three events that ran for three consecutive weeks at the same venue.
But Nhokwara yesterday indicated that for this year they had planned to have two more ITF Futures between October and November.
However, it’s now in doubt because of the economic situation.
They remain optimistic of next month’s tournaments. Meanwhile, the national association will early next month host a regional camp for Under-14s from June 5 to 8 in Bulawayo.