TENNIS Zimbabwe (TZ) have written to NetOne, the principal sponsors of the Zimbabwe Tennis Open proposing that they increase next year’s funding for the tournament to earn International Tennis Federations (ITF) Futures status.
REPORT BY ALBERT MARUFU
The tennis tournament, a major event on the local tennis calendar, was scratched off this year after the sponsors’ late committment to sponsoring it.
The ITF Futures tournament is the entry point to professional tennis where players earn points for better ITF ranking.
Zimbabwe hosted its first Futures event in seven years at the beginning of this month.
TZ vice-president Regis Bhunu told Standardsport that though the cancellation of this year’s edition of Zimbabwe Open Tennis Tournament was regrettable, it was good that the tournament could come back stronger next year with the Futures status.
“The tournament is off for this year. We could not find enough time to run the tournament because of the Futures 1 which we hosted and the Futures 2 that was played in South Africa. Even if we were going to stage, we could not manage to attract top players from the region,” he said.
Bhunu added that NetOne had committed themselves to sponsoring this year’s edition to the tune of US$15 000.
“The money was there, but we just could not find the time to slot the tournament. It is already late in the year. We have proposed that if it is possible, NetOne can add this year’s budget to next year’s so that we run a Futures tournament. We have since written to NetOne proposing the idea and basing on our relationship, I do not think that will be a problem,” he said.
An official from NetOne confirmed recieving communication from TZ and said it was a good idea.
“TZ wrote to us asking us to double the sponsorship so that the tournament can be given ITF stauts.
“I can confirm that the tournament is now going to be held early next year and I hope all that we are planning together with TZ is going to succced. I can also tell you that we are going to increase the sponsorship,” he said.
NetOne sponsored the tournament last year and Takanyi Garanganga, playing in his first tournament at home, proved too powerful for veteran Genius Chidzikwe in the Men’s final. Garanganga then teamed with Mlandeli Ndhlela to lift the doubles title.
In the ladies final, Valeria Bhunu beat Fadzai Mawisire in the final with the doubles title going to Fadzai Mawisire and Cynthia Sibanda.