Thursday, September 24, 2020

Tennis quad leaves for Istanbul

Four tennis players left for Istanbul, Turkey, where they will participate in the Davies Cup, the tennis World Cup, in the level 3 category.

The four are Thabiso Mabaka, Matshidiso Malope, Lefa Sibanda and Shingirai Muzondiwa. Prior to their departure, the quartet played against each other in rotational 16 matches in which Mabaka and Malope came out as first and second, respectively, with Sibanda and Mozondiwa emerging last in that particular order.

The rankings will be used at the Cup as Mabaka and Malope will each play in the singles with the other as reserve. The remaining two will, however, get a chance of playing in the doubles.

The last time the country participated in the world cup was in 2007 when they qualified to the level 3 from level two. The players who participated then were, Bokang Setshogo, Ernest Seleke Bokang and Onkabetse Matong but they could not make it this time around as they are currently being held up by school commitments.

The current team is dominated by mainly new players who are making their debut in the Cup. They are faced with the daunting task of maintaining the level 3 positions because if they fail, Botswana will be relegated to level two. Some countries like Zimbabwe have in the past occupied a place in the top 16 teams in the world but slipped over the years to level four.

In the last Davies Cup, Botswana did not participate as they failed to secure visas to Bulgaria. This did not affect their rankings though, as ITF was convinced by BTA’s reasons for not making it.

The youngsters will have to sweat it out with their counterparts from Turkey, Greece, Luxernburg, Madagascar and Estonia.

On the other hand, the players expressed optimism that they would do well despite the mammoth challenge lying ahead of them. Ernest Seleke, who participated in the last Davies Cup, was also confident that the team would do well. He said that although they did not do well at the recent African Junior championship (AJC) in Morocco, the fact that they are fresh from a competitive tournament means they should do well at the world cup. He said that during their time, it was tough but they managed to make a mark. Their coach, who is also the national team coach, Umtandazo Sibanda, expressed confidence that his team would do well.

Seleke, who is now a Level 2 coach, said that when they first qualified for level 3, they were not expected to do well but they nonetheless did. Asked whether the team has what it takes, responded “they have depth in themselves; they just need a chance to prove themselves”. He cited Mabaka as having the necessary courage and tenacity to do well in a tense atmosphere such as the world cup.

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