NAMIBIA’s senior men’s tennis team got off to a great start at the Davis Cup Africa Group IV tournament in Brazzaville, Congo this week, when they won their opening two ties.
Namibia won their opening encounter against Botswana 3-0 on Monday and yesterday beat Angola 2-1 to go to the top of Pool A.
The Namibian team is still very young, with the oldest member, Nguvi Hinda, only 21 years old. Codie van Schalkwyk is 19, while his brother Connor van Schalkwyk and Daniel Jauss are only 17.
The team captain and coach Gerrie Dippenaar, however, yesterday said they are highly motivated to make their country proud.
“The guys are really pumped up for this and I haven’t seen such an enthusiastic group in a very long time. They want to do this for our country, Namibia,” he said, adding that a logistical hiccup could not even disrupt their stride.
“Our number one player, Codie’s luggage has not yet arrived here in the Congo, so now he’s using my shoes – luckily we wear the same shoe size, and then he’s borrowing some rackets from his brother. So, nothing is going to stop us. We are very focussed on the task ahead and we would love to make Namibia proud,” he said.
On Monday, Namibia won all three of their matches against Botswana.
Connor van Schalkwyk beat Tshepo Mosarwa in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1, while Codie van Schalkwyk beat Tsholofelo Tsiang 6-3, 6-0.
Botswana provided stiffer opposition in the doubles, but Nguvi Hinda and Daniel Jauss eventually prevailed after beating their opponents in three sets, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
That gave Namibia an early lead in Pool A, along with Uganda, who beat Congo 3-0 in their opening game on Monday.
Yesterday, Namibia’s winning streak continued when they beat Angola 2-1, after winning both their singles matches and losing the doubles match.
In the opening singles match, Connor van Schalkwyk gave a great performance to comfortably beat Fernando Andre in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1.
Van Schalkwyk broke Andre’s serve in the fifth game to go 3-2 up, and then broke a second time to win the first set 6-2.
He was even more ruthless in the second set, immediately breaking Andre to go 1-0 ahead, and then broke two more times to win the set 6-1.
Despite his one-sided victory, Van Schalkwyk’s serve was not that great, with only 47% of his first serves going in. His second serve, however, was very reliable with 94% going in, while he only had one double fault in the whole match.
In yesterday’s second singles match, Codie van Schalkwyk beat Zidario Quitomina in straight sets, 6-0, 6-4.
He immediately broke Quitomina’s serve in the first game and after two more service breaks won the first set 6-0 in less than half an hour.
Quitomina provided stronger resistance in the second set, and managed to stay level till 3-3, but Van Schalkwyk broke his serve in the seventh game before going on to win the set 6-4.
That gave Namibia an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the tie, but Jauss and Hinda still put up a good fight, before losing their doubles match 7-5, 6-4 to Andre and Quitomina.
Namibia now lead Pool A with two wins, while Botswana replaced Uganda in second place, with Angola and Congo making up the rear.
In Pool B, the Ivory Coast are still unbeaten after two matches, while Cameroon, Senegal and Nigeria have each picked up one win so far.