A six member Zimbabwean U18 junior tennis team is warming up in Tunis, Tunisia to take part in the International Tennis Federation’s African Junior Championships. The championships, which run from 8-13 February include internationally ranked junior tennis players who hail from all over the continent. Northern African countries such as hosts Tunisia and neighbors Egypt and Morocco as well as South Africa in the past have dominated the championships.
Team Zimbabwe includes only one student who lives and is based in Zimbabwe – Beverly Matsiwe. The team comprises two boys and four girls, with three other players who initially registered, dropping out. The two boys are highly ranked and are expected to fare well this week. Mehluli Sibanda, based in South Africa, is in position 8 coming into the tournament, with an ITF junior ranking of 228. Tapiwa Chinamo, who currently trains from France, comes into the tournament in position 10, with a ranking of 259.
The four U18 girls representing Zimbabwe are not as highly positioned coming into the tournament. Kimberly Bhunu, who also trains in France, enters the championships in position 23, with Sasha Taruberekera based in South Africa in 25 and homegirl Matsiwe right behind in 26. The fourth female team member is Michelle Ncube in position 28, also based in South Africa.
The tournament includes 48 top ranked African junior tennis boys and 48 girls in the singles categories, and 32 doubles pairs for each boys and girls. Coach Liberty Nzula flew from Zimbabwe to accompany the team.