THERE is need to bridge the age gap in Zimbabwean tennis, an official with the local board said after the country failed to field a team in the Fed Cup as originally planned.
The Fed Cup is the female version of the Davis Cup. Zimbabwe were initially scheduled to take part for the first time in 28 years, but failed to raise a strong team because the players who would have made the team are still students.
In the past, Zimbabwe were not able to play in the Fed Cup because just one woman, Cara Black, qualified to play in this team event.
â€œThe major problem that we have encountered is that most of the girls who qualify to play in the Fed Cup have college commitments during the season,â€ said Tennis Zimbabwe (TZ) administrator Cliff Nhokwara.
â€œWe do have a number of girls who can represent the country in the Fed Cup. (But) we decided to pull out of this yearâ€™s edition simply on that basis,â€ he said. â€œThe same girls who would have represented us in the Fed Cup are the same girls who participated in the African Junior Championships. They couldnâ€™t afford to be away from school for another lengthy period.â€
TZ will soon introduce measures to address the lack of top players after the age-group level.
â€œMost of the tennis-playing girls in the country are between Under 14 and Under 10,â€ Nhokwara said. â€œOur aim is to train these youngsters at various levels as a way of bridging the age gap. We are having problems especially around the Under 16 and Under 18 age groups. There is need to groom a number of players around these ages. â€