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Local Tennis Sides Suffer Defeat

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
The local players failed to use home ground advantage in the just ended tournament
This year’s edition of the African Nations Tennis Cup came to an end on Saturday at Notwane Courts. The six-day tournament had attracted countries from across the continent.

The going was tough for the local boys and girls as they failed to register convincing results.

Botswana girls finished in position six under the team competition out of six countries. The category was won by Tunisia followed by Kenya and Morocco in the third spot.

The local boys finished in position four in the team competition after losing 2-0 to Gabon in the final.  The category was won by Morocco followed by Kenya and Gabon in third place. Lefa Sibanda was the only player who had a better competition finish in position seven in the boys’ singles with four points.  The boys’ singles champion is Anas Fattar from Morocco with 28 points. Fattar walked away P18,000 richer. Mehluli Sibanda from Zimbabwe came second with 20 points followed by Yassir Kilani of Morocco who scored 12 points. Sibanda pocketed P10,000 while Kilani received P7,000.

 In the girls’ singles, Thato Madikwe was the best-ranked player in position 15 with a single point. Chiraz Bechri from Tunisia won the category with 28 points. Angella Otukoyi from Kenya followed her with 20 points.  Lina Qostal from Morocco finished in the top three with 12 points. Bechri got P11,000 for her exploits with P7,500 going to Otukoyi. Qostal banked P5,000. There was also prize money for other categories.

 Lefa Sibanda told Sport Monitor that the team did not have specific preparations that were aimed at the tournament. He said it was continuous training that they normally have throughout

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the year. 

“We had a break to do the Level One coaching course and also the ITF coaching conference slowed us down. Despite that we were keeping up to build up for this event. 

“My aim was to see myself playing in the singles final.  Unfortunately, that did not materialise after losing to Morocco. His style of play caught me off-guard. Maybe next if I am to play that type of a player, I stand a good chance of winning that match.  It seemed like he had played more matches this year,” he said.

Regarding the team competition, Sibanda said it is always difficult because they have to pull as a team. He said it was tough, playing against Morocco on the first day. Botswana had fielded Tsholofelo Tsiang who lost against Morocco.  “Coming from behind on the second day and knowing that we are already down was tough. I felt the same thing against Gabon. I was playing with Lekang and his match ended before mine.

“After he lost, my game slumped a bit and I struggled most of the time. We have the techniques and facilities, but we are struggling with events. We are struggling to compete,” he said. Sibanda lost the match against Gabon 3-6, 7-7,7-6.   Local players rankings: (girl) Anele Maplanka, 18, Leungo Monnayoo, 19, and Bonolo Molefe. Boys: Emmanuel Mabechu, 22.



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