Weakened Zim seek Davis Cup win

Ndamu

A WEAKENED Zimbabwe tennis team lock horns with Israel in a three-day Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group One tennis tie in Tel Aviv starting today.



ca, sans-serif”>Missing the services of the experienced duo of Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett, Zimbabwe will have to be at their best and might also need a bit of luck to emerge victorious. They will also have to contend with searing heat in Tel Aviv.


Black is getting married this weekend while Ullyett said he feared for his safety in the politically volatile Middle East.


Genius Chidzikwe, a veteran of dead rubbers in the Davis Cup competition, will lead Zimbabwe.


The Mutare born player who made his Davis Cup debut in 1996 when Zimbabwe played Finland, is the country’s top seed in this encounter.


Gwinyai Tongoona who makes a return to the team is also expected to play a big role in his side’s quest for glory.


Tongoona, the first black player to represent Zimbabwe in a Davis Cup tie nine years ago, was recalled in March this year following the retirement of Byron Black.


Zibusiso Ncube and Gwinyai Chingoka complete the Zimbabwean team.

The new-look Zimbabwe have a platform to write another fairy tale after the success story of 1998 when the Blacks-led team shocked highly fancied Australia 3-2 before their home supporters.


The team also has inspiration from the Flushing Meadows exploits of September 1999. The doubles team of Wayne and Ullyett beat favourites and second seeds Don Johnson and Jared Palmer in the US Open doubles final.


Tennis Zimbabwe president Paul Chingoka said the unavailability of Wayne and Ullyett would give the largely inexperienced quartet a chance to prove themselves at the big stage.


Zimbabwe’s task will be made more difficult by the fact that their hosts have one of the top world players – Harel Levy – who is in the top 50.


Levy last year upstaged former world number one champion Pete Sampras in the second round of the French Open.


Of the 24 matches he has played, the Israeli top player won 16 and lost eight.


Other members of the home team are Jonathan Erlich, Noah Okun and Andy Ram.


If Zimbabwe lose to Israel, they will play Italy in a Euro/Africa Zone Group One qualifier in September.


It is the first time that Zimbabwe will play a Davis Cup tie without their best players – the Black brothers and Ullyett.


Greg Rodger, Zimbabwe’s non-playing captain, speaking from Tel Aviv, was reported in the local Press saying they were training twice a day and hoped to have acclimatised by the start of the tie this afternoon.


Rodger said during their first training session on Monday temperatures soared to 36 degrees celcius.


The outcome of the Tel Aviv battle will give an indicator on what direction Zimbabwean tennis is taking.

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