Zim Ready For ITF Tournaments
Tennis Zimbabwe president Martin Lock says the upcoming International Tennis Federation Futures tournaments set to run between this month and June are key in promoting local players take a step further in the sport.
Zimbabwe will host three ITF Futures events at Harare Sports Club, with the first one scheduled to run from May 28 to June 3.
The second event is set to run from June 4 to June 10.
The last tournament will be held from June 11 to June 17.
“It’s critical that we host events like these because it’s the only opportunity we have got to promote up-and-coming players.
“Those who qualify for the main draw will be in on merit and they have a chance obviously to go quite far in the tournament and improve their ranking.
“Those who don’t qualify for the tournament because they haven’t had the necessary exposure to get a ranking they can get a wildcard, which is the prerogative of the host nation.
‘’And that way we can also elevate them to the main draw where they can compete on the world stage and they can also try to get their ranking up.
“So, for us, it’s a wonderful opportunity to promote those players who need to be spring boarded up the world rankings,” said Lock.
The Futures events are now a permanent feature on TZ’s calendar and so far Benjamin Lock and Takanyi Garanganga are in the main draw for the upcoming events.
Benjamin had an interesting outing last year when he won two of the doubles titles when he partnered Nathaniel Lammons of the United States and one singles title.
The likes of Muzi Sibanda, Courtney Lock, Mehluli Sibanda and Brandon Levendale will have to go through the qualifying round on Saturday.
And, hopefully, they can pull through to the main draw.
Old Mutual, who are the traditional sponsors of the events, are the main sponsors again this year for the three events, with a $15 000 prize money each.
Lock said they were grateful to the sponsors who have made it possible for them to stage the tournaments annually.
“Our major sponsor, who has always been with us traditionally, is Old Mutual. So once again, they are sponsoring us fantastically.
“We have got a few sorts of additional sponsors. We have Zuva Petroleum, Tregers, Vic Falls Safari Club and then obviously we do get some assistance from the ITF in hosting these events.
“The Futures and the Davis Cup are the two biggest events for us on the calendar in terms of the high profile it gives the country.
“I mean sponsors have been fantastic in supporting Zimbabwe tennis and it’s really great that we can show them that it is a sport that is growing,” said Lock.
TZ administrator Cliff Nhokwara said all was set for the tournaments with the draw for the qualifying round set for Friday while the main draw will take place on Sunday.
Nhokwara said with Garanganga and Benjamin expected to take part, they were hoping they can inspire some of the upcoming players on the local scene.
“The qualifying draw will be on Friday and the draw size is 48. The main draw is 32 and the draw will be on Sunday.
“We do these tournaments to benefit our players. Hopefully, they do well and the youngsters can learn from these professionals.
“We are happier if the draws are dominated by Zimbabweans,” said Nhokwara.