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Local tennis team comes short

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Botswana national junior tennis team coach Kagiso Kelebeile this week expressed satisfaction over his team’s performance during the recent African Junior tennis zonal championships held in Gaborone. The weeklong Southern African regional championships, concluded earlier this week. The tournament was used as a qualifier for the African junior championships finals scheduled for March in Tunisia.

Botswana was represented by a total of 24 junior players in the Under 14 & 16 categories. In an interview with Sun Sports this week, Kelebeile said despite his team getting knocked out in the preliminary rounds of the tournament, the players put up a fight against tough opposition from other Southern African nations. “The results and the match scores do not explain the determination our players held to win throughout the tournament.

Most of the matches were ending in deciding sets because our players were putting up a fight at all times,” Kelebeile said. In addition, Kelebeile said they fell short of wins in the team event after the girl’s under 16 team of Tshegofatso Tsiang and Anele Maplanka made it all the way to the semi-finals after ousting Lesotho in a clean sweep of singles and doubles matches. “Tshegofatso and Anele played a beautiful tournament their encounter with Lesotho and their playing styles was proof that local kids are as talented as rival countries,” he said. According to Kelebeile, the tennis team has the right tools to play and compete against the big guns in the tennis fraternity. What holds them back is lack of quality competition in local shores.

“Our kids play less than ten tournaments in a year whereas their opponents from South Africa and the likes of Mauritius compete in close to thirty tennis tournaments in a year and that automatically gives them an upper hand over our kids,” he said. “The kids are always willing to learn and play more matches but the resources such as funds for tennis tournaments are limiting their ambitions to reach their true potential.” Kelebeile argued that another contributing factor to their decline is commitment of local athletes to other things besides tennis.

“We have kids going to school for eight hours or more and only coming for training for less than three hours. This alone needs to be looked since kids that possess a certain level of skill in sports should be accorded the same opportunity to develop it just like at school,” he said. Kelebeile added that he will go back to the drawing board together with his technical team to prepare as early as now for the next championships to be hosted by the International tennis federation in April where players aged under 18 will be allowed an opportunity to represent the country.

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Well-endowed Galaxy

Isaac Pheko

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FIRE POWER: Galaxy await Rollers

It is only the third week of the 2018/19 BTC Premiership and things are already heating up. Leading the charge is a marauding Jwaneng Galaxy who have already thrown a heavy-handed gauntlet at their rivals after recording a highly impressive 10 goals in just two games.

Galaxy’s intention has been made clear this season after leaving their first two opponents with bloody noses and tails tucked between their legs. The former Mascom Top 8 champions are in a relentless war path with the premier league title on their radar. This weekend, Galaxy host bitter rivals Township Rollers in Jwaneng in what is expected to be a football grudge match. Rollers have been a prickly thorn in Galaxy’s quest to claim the premiership silverware for the past two seasons.

This means the weekend fixture will be the most compelling of the new season. However, Galaxy seem to be packing more heat coming into the Saturday fixture having annihilated both Prisons XI (5-0) and Security Systems (5-0). Galaxy are currently occupying first position alongside second place Sharps Shooting Stars at six points apeice. The game against Popa this weekend will be a litmus test for Galaxy. If the Debswana backed side beats the reigning champions they will establish themselves as potential contenders for the 2018/19 title honours. On the flipside, a loss against Rollers will only mean the first two games were short of a bluff.

Pound for pound Mapalastina have the best squad in the domestic league but a new look Galaxy are well endowed in their own right. In an interview this week, Galaxy spokesperson Tankiso Morake said they played Rollers three times last season and all the games ended in a draw. “Remember we played Rollers in the Mascom Top 8 in Lobatse,” an up-beat Morake said. Morake further said they expected their new coach to receive his permits and start manning the bench when they play Rollers this weekend. “Our supporters have told us that they expected nothing less than league honours this season.” Morake attributes the positive result to a great pre-season.

“You will remember that there was a fake list in the media indicating that we have parted ways with most of our players. You can see that the likes of Ayanda Molefe and Isaac Paeye are still part of the team. There is a lot of competition in our team because we mostly have young players in the team including Lebogang Ditsile who played at Highlands Park in South Africa.” Furthermore, Morake conceded that Rollers are a strong team but argued that they will win the games from the technical bench. “You will remember that we started the last season back tracking but this time things are different.”

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Bridge team fails to impress

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The local team comprised of under 16, under 21 and under 26 categories. In an interview this week, BBF spokesperson Mbakiso Malilo did not mince his words when he described the team’s performance as terrible with all the three teams failing to qualify for the quarter finals.

“Making it to the quarter finals was our target following a good showing in the online championship by our junior team. I believe we can work on improving the playing standard for kids (under 16) as they still stand a chance to compete in the under 21 and under 26 categories for future championships,” he said.

However, Malilo explained that the local youth team gained a lot of experience as the played against more advanced rivals. Quizzed on challenges they faced with a predominantly youthful team, Malilo said: “the trip was too long and for most of the players this was their first experienced of travelling such a great distance. The jet lag ended up affecting the team’s performance as they showed signs of fatigue.” Malilo said their objective was to train young players and give them exposure to the game early on.

“We managed to network with bridge power houses like the Netherlands. Official from the European country expressed interest in training our kids through bridge clinics and enhancing the standard of play and bidding.” Malilo said they selected the junior team that travelled to China through local tournament that was held in Gaborone earlier this year. The tournament was attend by mostly tertiary school students and out of school youth in the junior and youngsters’ category. For the under 16 category we invited student from secondary schools.

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