A FEAST of junior squash was enjoyed in Harare last weekend when more than 100 players converged at three centres - Belgravia Sports Club, Old Georgians and St. John's - for the Mashonaland Closed Championships.
This was the first tournament of the 2013 season and it attracted all the top junior players from Mashonaland who competed in different age-groups in this competition whose finals were staged at St. John's.
And there was no stopping Blessing Muhwati from walking away with the main boys Under-19 title at the end of this exciting tournament.
Muhwati emerged triumphant in the boys Under-19 age-group where he beat Runyararo Kadyautumbe and Bryn Tyk into second and third places respectively.
Muhwati was emulated by Yvonne Mubure who came out tops in the girls Under-19 section where she clinched the gold medal ahead of Ashley Bruce and Hannah Munro while the top honours in the boys Under-16 category went to Tapiwa Jamera.
Mayan Lad and Dannin Beheaven were placed second and third in the boys Under-16 section.
Carley Barton won the girls Under-16 title on the same day Luke Mannion emerged triumphant in the boys Under-14 section ahead of another promising young player Anesu Mlambo.
A number of some good matches were also witnessed in the boys Under-13 section where Kyle Terkroden came out tops ahead of Jason Franklin and Miguel Roscoe.
The gold medal in the girls Under-13 section went to Breanne Vermark who snatched it from under the noses of Shreyu Lad and Browyn Schoolman.
Polite Mubure comfortably won the combined the girls and boys Under-11 section while Mark Johnson was crowned the champion in the boys Under-9 category.
Mashumba Mukumba, one of the tournament's organisers, said the weekend's competition was used as a selection event for the Zimbabwe junior team for the 2013 season.
"In fact, Matabeleland Province also staged their own Closed Junior championships and this will see us selecting a Zimbabwe junior team that will represent the country in international events this year.
"We had one of the best tournaments at the weekend and we had a good turn out in all the age-groups. For the first time, more than 100 kids turned up for this tournament.
"This shows that our junior development programme is still vibrant and I am happy to say that the sport of squash has a very bright future in Zimbabwe.
"We need more sponsors to come on board to take it to another level," Mukumba said.
In the past years, the sport of squash used to enjoy a lot of support from the corporate world in this country and this saw Zimbabwe producing a number of worldclass players such as Julie Smith, Ian Sheppey, Terry Elliot, Dave de Beer, Justin Nyakunhuwa, Oliver Lawton, Jo Holcroft, Viv Crocker and Mike Sherren.
Squash was once dominated by whites in the past in this country but a number of blacks are now playing the sport and they include the likes of Ishmael and Malvin Mubure, Admire Magwaza, Tanya and Takunda Maswi, Talent Mushunje, Joseph Matambanadzo and George Nkonjera.
Some of these players have worked under coach Mukumba who is also being actively involved in taking squash "to the people" as he has taken the sport to underprivileged children from Harare's high-density areas such as Glen View, Budiriro, Kuwadzana, Warren Park and Dzivarasekwa.
Mukumba has also recruited a number of children from Chitungwiza who are now playing squash at his base at Belgravia Sports Club in Harare.
The past couple of years have also seen the soft-spoken coach travelling overseas to attend numerous coaching courses.