We have lived a lie for too long!

ANYONE who did not foresee the blackness of the weekend Zimbabwe took to the court without any of the Black siblings in a Davis Cup qualifier should be forgiven, for they are lost in a nirvana of optimism.



ace=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Forgive any racial insinuations, Zimbabwe’s mortification in a Davis Cup Euro-African Zone Group One qualifier against little-known Serbia and Montenegro loudly reminds us it’s time for a reality check in as far as the progression of blacks in tennis is concerned.


It would have been foolhardy for Zimbabwe’s non-playing captain Claudio Murape — or anyone for that matter — to expect his charges to bring home a result from the former East European bloc fragment.


Even Genius Chidzikwe and his teammates knew winning a match in Nova Sad was as tough a task as playing tennis with a kookaburra ball.


Ladies and gentlemen, it takes more than patriotism and knowing how to gyrate across the court to be among the best in tennis.


Patriotism is what some of us rushed to conclude lacked in Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett when they made themselves unavailable for the crucial Davis Cup tie.


If it were all about patriotism, surely farm invasions master Joseph Chinotimba would have swung the racquet with as much zeal as we have seen him demonstrate when it comes to party politics.


Now that it’s not, it’s about talent.


Did I not hear echoes of then Tennis Zimbabwe president Paul Chingoka harping on how the country was bursting at the seams with talented prospects all over -— from the Zambezi to the Limpopo, from the dry lands of Matabeleland to the mountains of Manicaland?


The very same “mountains” from where Chidzikwe emerged as a promising talent close to a decade ago. Regrettably, Chidzikwe still remains a “promising” player despite the fact he is 26.


World number one Roger Federer is only 23, and we all know top players Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt are younger than Chidzikwe. By the time they get to 26 they would have matured or, as we have seen in many tennis stars, started to fade.


It’s just too bad for Zimbabwe that Wayne is now on the wrong side of 30. And so is Ullyett. That’s why the duo now concentrates on doubles tennis, though they can still stand the heat in the singles.


It’s just too bad Zimbabwe has had to rely so much on the Black brothers — Byron and Wayne — and to some extent Ullyett over the past decade with no one imagining what would happen if the icons were to retire from the sport due to age. Or lack of “patriotism” as some propaganda zealots would want to choke us with.


Never in my career have I come across a fellow as likeable as Chingoka. Always ready to comment when asked, the man regarded as one of the best sport administrators really made life easier for journalists on tennis issues.


Admittedly though, no journalist ever took the big man to task to substantiate his claims of a bright future for Zimbabwe whenever he gave his welcome speeches prior to Davis Cup matches.


Whenever anyone asked Chingoka on development of the game at grassroots level, he would quickly silence you with examples of promising talent such as Zibusiso Ncube, Pfungwa Mahefu and Gwinyai Chingoka, to name but a few.


Chingoka may no longer be in charge of tennis in the country, but surely he owes us an explanation on what happened to the “promising” youngsters other than earning scholarships for study at American colleges.


Tennis Zimbabwe president Cecil Gombera ought to explain why progress has been stagnant in the sport — and he should spare us the nonsense he hasn’t been in office for long enough to know.


We predict it will be the usual excuses that funding has not been forthcoming to develop the raw talent abundant all over Zimbabwe.


Or that many of our black players were not as lucky as Wayne or his retired brother Byron who easily courted sponsorship to take part in ATP tournaments.


Forget that we were told sponsors were literally falling over each other to be associated with Tennis Zimbabwe, which then was viewed as an epitome of a well-run association.


Are we not made to believe Chingoka or anyone at Tennis Zimbabwe were simply playing to the gallery when it came to telling us the real situation on the ground concerning tennis?


Do we really have any good players or Tennis Zimbabwe has not done enough to develop the raw talent we were made to believe was abundant in this country?


Probably the “promising” players themselves haven’t done Tennis Zimbabwe any good by abusing or not taking seriously the opportunities they are availed.


It would be interesting to hear how Peter Nyamande and Gwinyai Tongoona benefited from tennis scholarships in the States. Sadly, age might not allow them enough time to show us what they learnt.


We’ve got the likes of Tsitsi Masviba in women’s tennis. We all had bright prospects for her and thought a scholarship to the States would see her storming the WTA charts.


But sadly, we still only have Cara Black to boast of when Masviba vowed five years ago she would storm into the top 100 within two years. Do you still have that dream our Troy Trojan?


There are many of them who have been beneficiaries of tennis scholarships, but it is my sincere hope we won’t hear some have resorted to menial jobs to line their pockets with the greenback instead of concentrating on improving themselves.


The best we have achieved from collegiate tennis in the States is participation in less relevant competitions in Botswana, Chad, Kenya and Nigeria, among other countries.


Of course some of them have proved their mettle at our own Zimbabwe Open, never mind there has never been any quality players from beyond our borders to talk of. Unless someone tells us why we can’t progress in tennis, the plain fact is that we are not good enough.


We are really tired of living a lie that Zimbabwe is one of the best tennis nations in Africa. Yes, with the Black family Zimbabwe has flirted with the elite.


But the moment Ullyett and Wayne decide to join Byron in retirement, the stuck reality will be there for all who care to see: that Zimbabwe hasn’t done enough to close the gulf in class between the blacks and the rest of the “promising” stars.


dmajonga@yahoo.com

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