TEENAGE tennis sensation Kudzai Chapepa has been praised for her exploits in Europe despite her doubles team falling in the semi-finals in the girls 14 and Under Young Champions Cup at Excelsior Tennis Club in Hasselt, Belgium.

Chapepa and her Mexican partner Marriane Angel lost 6-3, 7-7 (6), 10-7 to Mariangel Estrella of Venuezela and Yleymi Lugiana Muelle Valdez of Peru as the Zimbabwean rounded up her month-long European tour on Friday that took her to France, Germany and Belgium.

The tour was organised by the Confederation of African Tennis and the International Tennis Federation. Her coach at Gap Sports Consultancy in Bulawayo, Thesly Mufunda, yesterday said Chapepa’s participation at the tournament introduced her to the professional circuit.

“This has been a great experience and exposure for Kudzai at this time of her career, as she looks to step over to the big game and probably now start making advances to the professional circuit. It has been good and it is worth the while for her,” Mufunda said.

“We have been communicating while she was in France, Germany and Belgium. She had a training camp in France and couple of tournaments in the Under-14s and Under-16s.

“She lost in the first rounds, but the score was telling something different that she was putting up the fight. Most of the matches were on clay court, so it was bit tough for her getting used to play on clay. We don’t have much of it here. It took a bit of adjusting for her.”

Mufunda added: “She played quite well, especially in doubles, despite losing in the first round in France. With the big game, you are not given a chance to settle down. People are starting from the first game fired up and when I talked to her, she said the guys there were starting on the front foot and the game was fast and she said she had to adapt quickly.

“Naturally, she is a defensive player. She plays baseline and been winning like that. I am expecting that when she comes back, she becomes an all-round player. We had already started working on an offensive game.

“She is excited that it is her first time playing in Europe. The confidence is up. She played with different partners, from Mexico, Korea and Algeria. We are thankful for such opportunities from the Confederation of African Tennis and the International Tennis Federation, Tennis Zimbabwe, the Sports and Recreation Commission, Bulawayo Athletic Club, Girls College.”

Chapepa fell in the second round in the singles of the Young Champions Cup.

Source Newsday