Sibanda storms into ITF South/Cen­tral fi­nals

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - El­lina Mh­langa Harare Bureau

EIGHTH seed Mehluli Sibanda turned on a re­mark­able show yes­ter­day as he stormed into to­day’s fi­nals of the on­go­ing ITF South/Cen­tral ju­nior cir­cuit after beat­ing top seed Alas­tair Gray at Harare Sports Club.

Sibanda pow­ered to a 7-5, 6-3 vic­tory over Great Bri­tain’s Gray as he pulled an­other up­set yes­ter­day.

On Thurs­day he de­feated Mo­hamed Abdel-Aziz, seeded fourth, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-0 on his way to the semi­fi­nals.

The 15-year-old is the only lo­cal player re­main­ing on course in the tour­na­ment.

Things were not look­ing good for Sibanda in the first set as he was 0-4 down but he man­aged to turn the ta­bles to come back into the game and take the set 7-5.

He then went on to win the sec­ond set in a tightly con­tested match as both play­ers dis­played some good ten­nis.

How­ever, a cou­ple of good serves, drop shots from Sibanda and some er­rors on his op­po­nent’s part saw the Zim­bab­wean player com­ing out of the match vic­to­ri­ous.

The South Africa-based player could not hide his joy and said the win on Thurs­day against Abdel-Aziz boosted his con­fi­dence.

“I feel amaz­ing, it’s a great feel­ing beat­ing the top seed, the con­fi­dence I have now is just amaz­ing. It ac­tu­ally pre­pared me be­cause it boosted my con­fi­dence to come and play well to­day.

“Yes­ter­day, I worked on my serve be­cause my coach said I must work on serves be­cause that guy was at­tack­ing my serve.

“I en­joyed the match very much, first set I was 4-0 down and then I don’t know what hap­pened, the guy started mak­ing mis­takes as well.

“I al­ways be­lieved I could win. I think it just hap­pens, I start play­ing well when I’m down. It’s a tough match as well to­mor­row, “said Sibanda.

He will fight for the hon­ours against ninth seed Luke Ham­mond of Great Bri­tain and hopes are high he will raise the coun­try’s flag high.

The girls’ fi­nals will fea­ture third seed Ce­les­tine Avomo Ella from Gabon and Morocco’s Diae El Jardi.

Avomo Ella beat top seed Ni­cole Petchey in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 while El Jardi dis­missed Ghita Ben­hadi 6-2, 6-2. WE are un­able to run your favourite col­umn “Week­end Whis­pers” to­day. It re­turns on Satur­day next week. — Ed­i­tor

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