Botswana prepares to host Africa Tennis Nations Cup

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By Bakang Mhaladi

Gaborone - Botswana is preparing to host its biggest tennis tournament, as 63 players from 17 countries will compete in the Africa Tennis Nations Cup in Gaborone from November 5 to 10.

The five-day tournament has attracted players from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, Burundi, Rwanda, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Swaziland, Mauritius, Madagascar, Malawi and Angola.

The entry list of 38 men and 25 players was confirmed last week Tuesday by the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT).

The deadline for withdrawal was Monday this week, meaning all entrants are now ready to do battle in Gaborone.

The hosts are looking to take advantage of home ground, with three representatives in the men's side, and three women selected for the six member team.

Seasoned 25-year-old Lekang Aobakwe will lead the men's team, as Botswana bids to eradicate the bitter memories of poor performances in international tournaments. Sekgopi Tshegofatso is the non-playing captain in the women's side.

Traditional powerhouses, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Madagascar are sending powerful teams. 

Kenya's top female tennis player Angela Okutoyi will pose a threat in the women's section, after she cancelled a tour to Australia to play in the Nations Cup.

The East African nation has said it will use the tournament as part of its preparations ahead of the Davis Euro Africa Group Two tournament in February.

Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) Vice President, Oaitse Thipe said they are ready to host the continental showpiece.

"The preparations are going well and our team (Botswana) has been in camp. We will have further updates on the preparations next week," Thipe said.

Prior to the tournament, CAT will host a first ever regional coaches' conference outside South Africa, when delegates converge in Gaborone. 

ITF Development Officer for Southern Africa, Tapiwa Masunga said the biennial conference targets coaches from Southern and Eastern Africa and will be held starting on Thursday and runs until Saturday.

“It is the first time that the meeting is held outside South Africa. It is exciting to get it outside and give other Federations an opportunity to build capacity in hosting events not just tournaments. We expect more than 60 coaches to attend,” she said.

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