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Chidzikwe fires volley

Darlington Majonga

TOP tennis player Genius Chidzikwe has fired a blistering volley at the way Zimbabwe’s Davis Cup team has been treated since the Black brothers

quit national duty.

Chidzikwe, part of the Davis Cup team that went down 1-4 in Greece last weekend, has accused Tennis Zimbabwe of not taking the players seriously, saying the attitude remarkably changed when Black brothers Byron and Wayne left the game.

Zimbabwe, who travelled to Greece with only three players and without their non-playing captain, have been relegated to the Davis Cup Euro-Africa Zone Group Three.

“It was tough playing on clay in Greece without proper preparations,” Chidzikwe told IndependentSport yesterday. “We went there a depleted side without the usual captain and Gwinyai Tongoona had to stand in. So it was really tough from the beginning.”

Chidzikwe said Zimbabwe would find it hard to regain their glory in the Davis Cup tournament unless Tennis Zimbabwe executives changed their attitude.

“Personally I think it’s very much within our range to get back to Group Two, but first the people at Tennis Zimbabwe have to change their attitude towards us,” Chidzikwe said.

“We don’t need this approach whereby players are being treated as the last thing to worry about. If you look at the Greece tie, I feel like we were only sent there so that we don’t get fined.”

The 27-year-old player, who got Zimbabwe’s face-saver when he beat Paris Gemouchidis in a dead rubber on Sunday, regretted that it was easy to criticise the players’ shortcomings without looking at other factors such as shoddy preparations and unpaid bonuses.

“When you are going into Davis Cup, there are a lot of things we need. I have never asked for anything that’s not necessary, but when I’m worried about food and money I’m owed why should my worries be brushed off?” said Chidzikwe.

He added: “I’ve experience with Byron and Wayne when they were still playing Davis Cup tennis for Zimbabwe and we were taken seriously. Now it has changed, and if people at the top have attitude it’s easy for it to transcend downwards.”

Chidzikwe said they were no longer getting the proper food in the run-up to crucial matches, while their practice sessions were not taken seriously.

Tennis Zimbabwe vice-president Tanya Chinamo last week said the association could only send three players, instead of the conventional five members, to Greece because of a serious financial crisis.

Chidzikwe said he was disappointed Tennis Zimbabwe was broke and no longer attracted sponsorship as in the past.

“I’m convinced Tennis Zimbabwe was making money during our Davis Cup glory days when we played the likes of Australia, Italy and the US. What happened to that money, I don’t know and anyone can speculate,” he said.

Chidzikwe said playing for Zimbabwe had become frustrating, but he was not considering quitting yet.

“There are times when I have asked myself: ‘Why do I do it?’” he lamented. “Unlike Byron and Wayne who had international sponsors, some of us have to use our own money for kits and other stuff ahead of the Davis Cup ties.

“It’s a lot but I’m not the kind to whine about everything. It’s just sad people rush to say we are not good enough without looking at the other stuff. I’m not saying I’m as good as Byron, but I believe I’m doing my best.”

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