Botswana’s Tshegofatso Tsiang was the country’s sole shining light at the just ended International Tennis Federation (ITF)’s Confederation of Africa Tennis (CAT) tournament held at the Notwane Courts. While the best by her local compatriots was reaching the quarterfinals, the Pretoria based lass was the only player to bring home some medals from the tournament. In a tournament that was dominated by countries such as South Africa, Mauritius and Zimbabwe, Tsiang brought home four medals, among them silver and a bronze medal from the individual under 14 categories as well as two gold medals from the girls’ doubles games.
For all the gold medals she won in the doubles, Tsiang’s best performances were in the Under 14 Girls’ category, where she won a silver after losing to South Africa’s Lara van Der Merwe. On her way to the finals, Tsiang, who was ranked 3rd, beat South Africa’s Arista Siebrits 7 ÔÇô 5 and 6 ÔÇô 1 before easily deposing Zimbabwe’s Nandi Munyulwa 6 ÔÇô 1 and 6 ÔÇô 1 in the quarterfinals to book herself a semifinal date with the tournament’s number two ranked player in her category, Christine Kruger of South Africa. Despite a tight game, the Botswana girl managed to wriggle past the South African in a match that went into three sets. After a good start that saw her easily win the first set 6 ÔÇô 2, Tsiang then lost the second set 5 ÔÇô 7. She however won the tightly contested third and deciding set 7 ÔÇô 6 after three tie breaks to set a dream final against the van Der Merwe, who was the tournament’s number one ranked player in the Under 14 Girl’s category.\
Against van Der Merwe, things did not go well for Tsiang as she lost her first set 0 ÔÇô 6 in a one sided affair. The second set nearly went the same way as the local girl was left chasing a 0 ÔÇô 5 deficit, only for Tsiang reduce the deficit to 2 ÔÇô 5 as she tried to launch a comeback. It was however too little to late as van Der Merwe wrapped the set and won Gold for South Africa. Commenting on the performance of Botswana at the games, Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) President, Nelson Amanze, said there is still a lot that needs to be done to get other local youngsters to the same level as Tsiang. “Our focus at the moment is to develop many of our young players as much as we can. We want to have many players coming up who can perform at the level of Tsiang. It is important that we can have more players, especially girls, who can fill her void when needed,” the BTA President said.
Despite the best performances from local players having been reaching the quarterfinals, Amanze expressed pleasure at the performances, saying they have shown much improvement. “We understand that we fell short, but in terms of improvement, I believe we have improved. Ever since these tournaments started, we have managed to better our previous performances and this year was no exception,” the BTA said. “In fact, we have improved so much that the ITF Development officer who was here was very impressed with what we have done.
As a result, he has categorically informed us that he will be coming back to Botswana sometime in the near future to conduct some clinics for our players to help them improve further. Unlike in the past where this would be done for the region, this will be solely for Botswana and it shows how much our development efforts have impressed him,” he concluded.