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JUNIOR tennis players from across the country will wrap up their season with the Select Healthcare championships in Harare this week. The tournament will be held at Harare Sports, which will be the main venue, and Old Hararians.

The four-day tournament runs from Thursday to Sunday with the junior players from all active provinces taking part in the Under-10, red ball, orange ball and green ball up to the Under-18 age-group.

However, the Under-18s will be combined with the Under-16s due to poor turnout in the past events that have seen a few under-18 players taking part in local events, particularly in the girls section.

Tournament director, Farai Tapfuma, said they were looking forward to a big event since this is their second year of staging the tournament.

“So far we have 120 entries that have entered from provinces that play tennis. We have entries from Masvingo, Midlands, Manicaland and Harare.

“We are likely to have two venues Harare Sports Club and Old Hararians with our main venue being Harare Sports Club.

“We are combining the Under-16s and the Under-18s because in the previous event we had very few Under-18 players. So we thought it will be a good idea for us to combine the two age-groups for competition.

“We are expecting so much improvement on this year’s event because we had more time to arrange and organise the tournament. Since the entries are high we are expecting a good turnout and good level of competition,” Tapfuma said.

Participants for the tournament are paying US$15 and Tapfuma said as part of their efforts to promote participation by junior players they were catering for players who cannot afford to pay the entry fee.

“We are catering for kids who cannot afford to pay their entry fee but they have to be talented. We are saying those without money but have the talent it’s high time you come and play.

“So, yes, we are expecting stiff competition,” said Tapfuma.

The Select Healthcare was introduced last year with a total of 125 players taking part in the inaugural event.

The tournament is being sponsored to a tune of US$10 000 and the winners will walk away with trophies for their efforts in the various categories.

Last year the Under-18 boys title went to Luca Picci but he will not be defending the title this year since he has graduated into the seniors.

Mitchelle Marufu is the reigning champion in the girls section.

Source : The Herald