Sibanda sails through to ITF quarter-finals
ZIMBABWE’S top ranked junior player, Mehluli Sibanda pulled through to today’s singles quarterfinals of the on-going International Tennis Federation 18 and Under South Central Circuit Leg 1 after beating Lleyton Cronje from South Africa yesterday at Harare Sports Club.
The event, which started on Monday is one of the three tournaments running until August 19.
Sibanda seeded second for this tournament beat Cronje 6-3, 6-3 in straight sets to cruise to the quarterfinals.
The South Africa-based player expressed satisfaction with his performance so far in the tournament and added that he expects a tough match today against fifth seed Philip Henning.
“It’s been good, I am playing well. I like playing here at home, it feels nice with the crowd and the support.
“I have a tough match tomorrow. I am hoping I can win but it’s going to be a tough match. I have played him before, I beat him but it was tough. So I am hoping the same thing could happen.
“I know his game I have played him three times now,” said Sibanda.
Sibanda, ranked 249 on the ITF rankings said he is hoping to improve on his rankings and win at least one of the events.
“I am hoping maybe after these tournaments I could finish in the top 100 if I do well. I am also hoping that I could win because I have not won ITF, I just lose in the final,” said Sibanda.
Henning dismissed Abdoul Kabura 6-2, 6-0 to secure his place in the quarter-finals.
In the girls section Kimberly Bhunu, who was the only Zimbabwean player, still in the running by yesterday, went down to top seed Nermeen Shawky 6-2, 2-6, 3-6 in the second round.
She also lost the doubles match with her partner Zara lost 2-6, 4-6 to the pair of Mauritius Lilya Hadab and Natsumi Kawaguchi.
Bhunu, however, remains optimistic of the other two upcoming events.
“The more tough matches you play then the better you will become. I am not going to lose in the second round again. I am going to work on the things that I think I am not doing so well on in the match.
“I think my problem is mentality, like how to play on certain points in certain situations and to make the right decisions on those situations, I need to improve more.
“So the more matches I play the better it will become,” Bhunu said.
Zimbabwe had 11 players in the boys singles and 5 in the girls section and most of them bowed out in the first and second rounds.