By Bonweyinkosi Sithole
Malan Pierre and Cataldi Taylor won the top prizes as they both emerged victorious in their final matches of the International Tennis Federation Juniors Circuit at the Bulawayo Country Club played on Saturday.
Malan Pierre slaughtered Dylan Salton 6-2, 6-3 in the boys under 18 category to win the top prize in what was a South African affair. Both players gave their all in the first set but Salton could not match the top seed Malan who dominated throughout the tournament.
In the girls section, it was a bad day for the number one seeded MJ Changwereza representing Great Britain as she was not on her best throughout her final match. USA’s Cataldi Taylor emerged victorious after winning 7-5, 6-2 in both sets.
Tournament organizer Cliff Nkokwara said “ initially we were targeting this tournament to be a developmental one, targeting mostly regional players and a lot of Zimbabwean participants to benefit but looking at the depth of the tournament we ended up having players from Australia, America and the likes of Pierre Malan who are top players in the juniors circuit, so that certainly increased the quality of the tournament but not to undo our Zimbabwe players they put up quite a good show.Some reached the quarter finals of tourney , we had the likes of Thabo who got into the semis”.
Chairperson of the Bulawayo Metropolitan Tennis Board, Tarwirwa Chikunichawa also thinks most Zimbabwean players benefited from the tournament which ran for six days and was quick to say they looked forward to hosting more of sùch events.
“It has been a good tournament most of our local players benefited from it and l think as usual we managed to put up a good host and definitly we look into the future we could get more tournaments coming our way in the province” said the Chairperson.
Although most Zimbabwe’s representatives came from the different parts of the country with a noticeable few coming from the host province, the Chairman pointed out that they were making progress as they lost quite a number of junior players who finished playing last year.
He also added that, ” right now we are on a rebuilding process as you can see we had young players who participated in the tournament, so this means that within the next three to four years to come we will have quite a number of players and the continuity of this ITF coming to Bulawayo is going to be a big boost to us, overall l think we hearding in the right direction”.
Tarwirwa was impressed by the Zimbabweans especially those coming from Bulawayo considering how big the stage was and playing against international players but were able to put up quite a show, which is a good thing.
The 13yr old MJ Changwereza who was born in Britain but his parents are originally from Zimbabwe started playing tennis at the age of five but decided to go pro at the age of ten year says she was happy with how the tournament unfolded.
The number one seed of the tournament has reached the semifinals and the finals of the ITF prior to her recent achievement.
The ambitious 13 year old tennis player said her number one goal was to be the World number one and to win all the Grand Slams. More so, she also wants to reach the top 50 of the ITF Juniors and to get a ranking in the ITF Pros.