Despite local players not making it into the advanced stages of the Junior Tennis championship of Botswana, Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) has expressed satisfaction at the performance of local athletes in the competition.
“While the score margins were sometimes big, the fact is that they did not reflect the actual games. These youngsters gave it all the best they could but their opponents were superior,” BTA spokesperson, Nelson Amanze, said in an interview on the sidelines of the tournament.
The local players, as was the case with other players from the Southern African region, found the going tough as most were knocked out of the tournament very early.
The only African players that are still taking part in the championships are from North Africa.
“These players do not have the same exposure as their north African counterparts. Countries like Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco are very close to Europe and can manage to send their players to tournaments into European circuits very easily and this gives them the much needed exposure and an upper hand in Africa,” Amanze said.
He, however, says considering the general ages of local players, the BTA is happy and is very optimistic the country will in future have a good team.
“Most of our players who took part in this championship are aged below 14 and looking at their showing during the tournament, we believe if we prepare them well we can do better in the near future,” the BTA spokesperson continued.
He says the first step will be to push for more tournaments with other southern African countries to give regional players more exposure and match temperament. He says as such, they will advocate, during the upcoming Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) Annual General Meeting (AGM), for stronger regional cooperation in the southern region to ensure that players from the region are given more tournaments and more exposure.
Amanze also acknowledged that the BTA had not thoroughly prepared the local players for the tournament as they could have wished; saying this also contributed a lot to the players not making it into the latter stages of the championship. He says besides the fact that the team had no competition prior to the championships, they could also not have proper camps and thus had only one camp, which did not even last two weeks.
He says this was largely due to lack of money as they had to rely on the annual grant from the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) to host the championships as well as to prepare local players.
Meanwhile, Amanze says he is hopeful that the local team’s participation in the championships will serve them well in the ongoing Africa Junior Championships. The BTA spokesperson says he believes the junior championships will prove good preparations as the country bids to better its past performances in the African junior championships. The core of the team that competed in the championships makes the team competing on the ongoing Africa junior championships; something which the BTA believes bodes well for the country.