Tennis teams fail to progress

National duty: Botswana Under-14 girls Mbali Qame (2nd right) and Bashali Phatshwane (extreme right) before their match against Namibia
National duty: Botswana Under-14 girls Mbali Qame (2nd right) and Bashali Phatshwane (extreme right) before their match against Namibia

Botswana put up a brave fight at the just-ended ITF/CAT Under-14 and 16 Southern Africa Championships played in Harare, Zimbabwe but fell short of progressing to two tournaments in Europe.

The Under-14 girls' and Under-16 boys' teams finished third, while the Under-14 boys and the Under-16 girls were placed fourth.

This means the teams will not be part of the Junior Davis and Billie Jean Cup tournaments, which are scheduled at the end of the European summer in Turkey.

The team had players such as Ntungamili Raguin who is ranked 16th in Africa, Mark Nawa who made it to the J4 Gaborone 2022 Tennis Tournament, Martin Seetso, and Talinda Sechele among others.

The Under-16 girls' team of Chelsea Chakanyuka and Atlang Chongwe lost to South Africa 3-0, while their male counterparts, Nawa and Seabo Saleshando also lost by a similar score-line to the same neighbours. There was no reprieve for the girls' Under-14 pair either of Phatshwane Bashali and Rethabile Moshao, as South Africa asserted their dominance with a 3-0 victory.

In the boys' Under-14 contest, Raguin and Sechele fell 2-1 to Angola after a playoff, which meant they also failed to qualify.

Botswana Tennis Association president, Oaitse Thipe said despite failure to progress, the teams performed well. Focus now turns to Tunisia where Botswana will participate at the Africa Junior Championships.

“I think the team did well, but in Tunisia, since it will be an individual event, we expect players to do really well. Players like Mark won the doubles in Tunisia last year,” Thipe said.

Since the road to Europe has been cut short, the team will now focus on the Africa Junior Championships individual competitions in Tunisia. The teams have a good track record at the junior championships as they did exceptionally well at the 2021 tournament. Seetso and Nawa won the doubles after beating Mohammed Gechou and Mohammed Ghetas of Algeria 6-3, 7-5 to win the 2021 Africa Junior Championship title. Seetso finished third in the singles after he lost to reigning champion Yasser Hosni Zaki of Egypt.

Meanwhile, Nawa, Naledi Raguin and Moshoa are in Namibia for the ITF Under-18 tournament.

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