ZIMBABWE is set to co-host an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Men’s Futures tournament with South Africa in November.
Report by Albert Marufu
The ITF Futures circuit is the lowest rung of professional tennis below the Association for Tennis Professionals (ATP) Challengers Tour, the ATP Tour and the pinnacle of professional tennis, the Grand Slam.
This would be the first time in seven years that Zimbabwe hosts an ITF Futures tournament after their last tournament was held in Bulawayo in 2005. Last year Tennis Zimbabwe (TZ) lost in their bid to host a Futures tournament after failing to get a sponsor to run two tournaments one after another.
Then, ITF had acceded to TZ’s request to have the Zimbabwe Open Tennis tournament accorded Futures status, on condition that they ran two tournaments one after another. However, this year TZ has asked their South African counterparts to host one tournament with Zimbabwe hosting the following tournament so that the Zimbabwe Open Tennis would be granted the ITF status.
TZ administrator, Cliff Nhokwara said they were ready to host the event and were only waiting for confirmation from ITF.
“That would be very beneficial to our players as they earn points and some of them do not play in the qualifying rounds. We really want to host an ITF Futures tournament as that will expose our players to bigger tournaments,” said Nhokwara.
ITF Futures tournament has a number of advantages to local players as the hosts get four places of players who do not play in the qualifiers, which is not the case at the moment as most players are playing in the qualifying rounds.
Zimbabwe has in the past successfully hosted the Zone Six Africa Junior Tennis Championships with the latest having been held at Harare Sports Club in April this year.