CLAUDIO Murape, the Zimbabwe Davis Cup tennis team non-playing captain, and number one seed Genius Chidzikwe believe the team’s new home, Harare Sports Club, will spur them to victory against Norway in the Davis Cup Euro-Africa Zone Group Two tie star
ting this afternoon.
“The outdoor ground will help us,” Murape said.
“The spectators are close to the court so we will be assured of good atmosphere.
Besides, Zimbabwean sports fans are used to outdoor games, and also Harare Sports Club is a popular place so we expect full houses.”
Harare Sports Club last hosted international tennis matches before the Zimbabwe team ascended the Davis Cup ladder in the early 1990’s.
Tennis Zimbabwe had to renovate the main tennis court at the multi-purpose sports club which also hosts international matches in other disciplines such as cricket, rugby and squash.
Chidzikwe concurred with Murape about the change of venue:
“Most definitely that is how I view it,” he said.
“In the last few years tennis has not been pulling big crowds so having a small crowd at a big venue was no longer making much of a difference.
The new venue is small and cozy and it will easily fill up with a nice crowd and the atmosphere will be electrifying.”
On his team’s preparedness, Chidzikwe believes the two sides have an equal chance to clinch the tie.
“Gwinyai (Tongoona, second seed) and I have been putting extra hours in training,” said Chidzikwe. “It will be an open tie.
Norway have a fairly young side except for one guy who is in his thirties.
Hopefully my experience will give us an edge.”
A win for the weakened Zimbabwe side will throw them a promotion lifeline as they will have a chance to play Group One promotion play-offs later this year. Defeat will result in a relegation play-off.
Zimbabwe are struggling to fill the void left by the retired Byron and Wayne Black, who put Zimbabwe tennis on the world map for over a decade. Another key player, Kevin Ulyett, has excused himself from the Norway tie.
The locals were relegated to Group 2 after Israel thumped them 4-1 in their last tie last year.
The Zimbabwe team is made up of number one seed Chidzikwe, second seed Tongoona, and rookies Stefan D’AImeida and Dumiso Khumalo.
The Norwegians arrived in Zimbabwe on Sunday and have been getting a feel of the match venue since Monday.
The team is made up of number one seed Stian Borretti, number two Jan Andersen, Alexander Hoyem and Carl Sundberg. Their non-playing captain is Anders Haseth.
Meanwhile, Chidzikwe will get the ball rolling at 10am against the Norwegian number two player Andersen in the first match.
Tongoona will then come up against Norway’s number one Borretti. Chidzikwe and Tongoona team up for the doubles match tomorrow against Sundberg and Hoyem.
The reverse single fixtures will be on Sunday.