The Botswana tennis team returned from Burundi last week where it was taking part in a five nation tournament and produced promising results. Of the six men team, five managed to progress to the first round only to be eliminated in the second round.
The Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) Public Relations Officer, Mr Oshinka Tsiang, expressed confidence in their men saying they performed well, despite facing funding challenges. He said it was very promising that five of the players managed to reach the second round despite it being their first time to play on clay courts.
Despite being strained of resources and without sponsors, the Botswana Tennis team is committed to competing in the Davis Cup. This was said by the team’s coach, Thato Kgosimore, in an earlier interview, something reiterated by Tsiang.
Tsiang said it was very crucial for the 6 men team plus the coach to have taken part in the Burundi tournament as it was played on clay, saying this familiarized the team with clay courts.
The Davis Cup is played on the same.
Due to lack of funds the Botswana team, unlike the four others of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya was not able to finish the four week East Africa Circuit tournament, which was played one week after another in all the four countries.
The team only played the first leg of the tournament in Burundi.
Tsiang, confirmed that their team is geared for the May Tournament despite sponsors being hard to get. He, however, stated that they are doing everything they can to secure sponsors.
“We have not identified any sponsors yet but we are hopeful to get some before the tournament begins,” he said.
Botswana has taken part in the Davis Cup since its inception in 1994 and had its best team in 1999 when it won in the group three levels but failed to qualify for group two as it faced tough competition from teams such as San Marino and Azerbaijan. Botswana is ranked in the bottom level three due to many factors such as immaturity in the sport.
The Davis Cup is an international team event in men’s tennis and is run by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The competition, which is regarded as the biggest annual international team competition in sports started in 1900.
It started as a challenge between Britain and the United States. In 2005, 134 countries sent their teams to compete in the competitions, a massive growth in the tournament that saw it rise to international recognition. The teams that take part in the games compete in a knock out format, and the most successful teams in the tournament are the United States of America (USA) and Australia. The USA has won the competition a record thirty two times, finishing as runner ups twenty nine times while Australia won it twenty eight times finishing as runners up nineteen times.