Poor start for Botswana in regional tennis tourney

Amaury De Beer of South Africa and Madagascar' s Andritoavina Ratsimandresy contest their semi final clash during the on going ITF/ CAT Southern Africa Championships yesterday. PIC: KABO MPAETONA
Amaury De Beer of South Africa and Madagascar' s Andritoavina Ratsimandresy contest their semi final clash during the on going ITF/ CAT Southern Africa Championships yesterday. PIC: KABO MPAETONA

Botswana remains hopeful of qualifying for the Africa Junior Championships (AJC) despite an underwhelming performance thus far in the ITF/CAT Southern Africa Zonal Championships.

In the first round, which comes to an end today, Botswana is still battling to qualify under the new points system. The second round kicks off tomorrow at the Notwane Tennis Club. Points accumulated at the end of the tournament on Saturday will be tallied to decide qualifiers for the AJC to be hosted by Tunisia in March.  Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) secretary general, Boikobo Gaolebalwe said local players gave an average performance in the first round.

“Our players gave an average performance. We had 19 players and we had the last player dropping out from the semi-finals. There are many factors that contributed to our poor performance,” Gaolebalwe said. The tournament has attracted 115 players from South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Angola, Madagascar, Mauritius and Mozambique. It is divided into three categories, Under-12, 14 and 16.

Gaolebalwe said for the first time, countries are using the point system to qualify for the AJC.  He explained that points players accumulate in their matches would be added up at the end of the tournament on Saturday to decide who goes to AJC. Gaolebalwe said South Africa has already qualified for the championships because last year, they finished in the top four. Morocco-based Botswana tennis player, Innocent Tidimane has already qualified for the AJC in the Under-18 category because of his ranking. Tidimane is ranked number 384 in Africa.


Gaolebalwe said that the level of competition is high with countries such as Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia making an impact. He stated that unlike their counterparts from other countries, local players do not take part in many tournaments. The last time local players participated in a tournament was in August. Gaolebalwe said until such a time local players are given the needed exposure, they will continue to struggle. He explained that Botswana players suffer from stage fright and get intimidated and beaten easily, especially when they come up against top seeds.  “We are struggling to secure sponsorship to develop tennis. It is unfortunate that most people think sponsorship is all about money. We had an agreement to be included in the South African tennis calendar of events but when they have events, our players are busy with their school programmes,” he said.

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