LOCAL junior tennis players will have an opportunity to showcase their skills early next month when they take part in the New Winners tournament to be held at Harare Sports Club. The four-day tournament is set to run from January 3 to 6 with participants taking part in five age groups - Under-10, Under-12, Under14, Under-16 and Under-18.
Tennis Zimbabwe administrator, Cliff Nhokwara said registration is already underway and the major highlight of the tournament is the introduction of the Under-10 age group in next year's edition.
"Registration is underway and will close on December 28. We already have some entries but most of the players like to register on the last day so we are expecting more players to come in.
"With the rains and the holiday we will be happy if we get over 100 entries and I think we can get that number. We have the Under-10 red ball being the entry level. It's a new programme we are holding for early ages. Usually we concentrate on the Under-12 but we have gone back to the Under-10.
"It will cater for everyone below the age of 10 who can hold a racket. The red ball is for the beginners and when they have improved they progress to the orange ball then green and then the normal ball," said Nhokwara.
Nhokwara said the idea is to create a wider base for junior developmental programmes.
"We are widening the base for grassroots development. If you look at the Under-10 that's where we get more kids, basically this is to do with catching them young. We want to introduce them to competition at a tender age," said Nhokwara. The TZ administrator said they are looking forward to stiff competition as they have players from Botswana and South Africa that have entered for the tournament.
"We have entrances from Botswana and South Africa, we hope they will come and hopefully that will give extensive competition to our players," said Nhokwara.
Nhokwara, however, noted that some of the top players in the Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 age groups will not be available for the tournament as they are scheduled to take part in the Zonal tournaments to be held in Namibia from January 6 to 12.
"For next year it's unfortunate that the tournament is clashing with the Zonal tournament in Namibia and the top two players from the Under-12 to Under-16 will not be available.
"But the Under-18 will not be affected because they have their own tournament that is held in South Africa," said Nhokwara.
Mufaro Mukome is the defending champion in the Under-18 boys category while Michaela Baker holds the girls' title.