Botswana tennis team coach, Wellington Sibanda has said the country stands a good chance of sending players to the Africa Junior Championships (AJC) to be held in Tunisia from January 26-31.
Sibanda told Mmegi Sport yesterday that they are pinning their hopes on sending three players to the championship. He explained that last year, only one player qualified for the event.
This year, Thato Holmes (boys) and Tshegofatso Tsiang (girls) have done well in the first qualifying tournament, increasing their qualification chances. Sibanda said they are now waiting for one boy in the either the Under 14 or 15 categories to pull through.
He stated that despite losing some matches in the qualifying tournament, Botswana players showed improvement.
He said that after their first matches in the second tournament of the International Tennis Federation (ITF)/CAT Southern African Junior Championships that started yesterday, local players had to face seeded opponents, especially from South Africa. During the games played yesterday morning, Botswana players won against Mozambique, Swaziland and Malawi opponents.
The local players lost to opponents from South Africa, Angola and Namibia. Some of the players who won in the first round are Batsumi Marobela, Thato Madikwe and Tshepo Mosarwe.
Sibanda explained that the tournament is not only for qualifying but countries are also fighting for ITF rankings.
“This is a team and an individual event. At the end of the tournament, points that players have accumulated with be added and the total used for rankings.
As hosts, we were allowed to have a team B. The team is using the tournament to get exposure. These are young players that we are developing. They are the future of tennis in the country,” Sibanda said.
He stated that results could not be expected to come fast because it is a process to groom players that can win against top seeds. He said some players lose because they are not mentally strong. Hence there is need to motivate players and make them have self-belief.