The Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) will host the African Junior Championship (AJC) from March 18 to March 30 after beating other countries which were also interested in hosting the tournament.
BTA hosted the same tournament last year.
“We are going to host this tournament for the second time in a row,” said Tuelo Serufho, the BTA sports development officer. “Since its inception, it was the first time for Botswana to host a tournament of this magnitude last year.”
Serufho described the tournament as a prestigious competition on their calendar.
“There is no tournament bigger than this one. It is the best of the best as far as our junior tennis is concerned,” he said. Serufho said BTA hosts the tournament on the basis of the success of last year’s tournament.
“Kenya and Morocco wanted to host the tournament. But, with our experience, we were accorded the opportunity to host the tournament as it was felt that we could do better. It is going to benefit us because, as the host, we can field many players. When we host, we can field at least 18 players. That is the primary benefit,” he said.
Other benefits, Serufho said, would be to sell tennis to stakeholders and other companies, especially during a tournament of this magnitude.
He said for the teams to qualify for the tournament, they have to participate in the qualifiers.
“Countries affiliated to the Confederation of African Tennis (CAF) have to send their players to participate in the qualifying events. We sent our players to take part in our zone which was held in Namibia,” he said.
He said the contests start on March 18.
“As the hosts we will start with the Junior Championship of Botswana in the first week. Then the second week will be the African Junior Championship,” said Serufho. He said the first week of the tournament is open to junior champions across the world, adding that the second week of the tournament is exclusive to nationals of Africa only.
Serufho said that their courts are in good condition. He further stated that the players would also use the University of Botswana (UB) courts and that they had beefed up security to ensure that the tournament runs smoothly.
The BTA sports development officer said they are pinning their hopes on players like Thabiso Mabaka, Matshidiso Malope, Katego Gouwe, and Lefa Sibanda.
“The players that will participate in this prestigious tournament have international experience. In Namibia last year, they put up a brilliant performance,” he said.
According to Serufho, the main donor is the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
“ITF is sponsoring the tournament for P 700 000. As the BTA, we will have to raise P300 000. We need at least a million to host the tournament,” he said. Serufho said thus far some companies have supported them.
“We have received donations from various companies and some companies have expressed their willingness to come on board,” he said.