KAMPALA. Uganda has continued its fruitful partnership with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) since the country rejoined the world body early last year.
After last year’s month-long ITF Pro Circuit, Uganda Tennis Federation (UTF) will host yet another three weeks of the pro circuit dubbed M15 Kampala from May 6-26 at Lugogo. The tournament is $15,000 (Shs57m) worth in prize money per week.
Hosting the Circuit presents UTA with an opportunity to provide local developing players with high quality tennis at no cost. Boris Aguma and Duncan Mugabe have been big beneficiaries of this in the past.
Last year’s circuit ended with both of them earning ATP points and the latter emerging as a doubles-champion after accumulating lots of experience and hours on court over four weeks. Over 60 players have entered the tournament including last year’s champions Ivan Nedelko (a Russian ranked 436) and Italy’s Fabrizio Ornago (ATP-446) plus Zimbabwe’s Benjamin Lock (ATP-549)
Uganda’s Davis Cup-bound team comprising David Oringa, Simon Ayella, Edward Birungi and Frank Tayebwa will get wild card entries to the main draw with the hope that this tournament will help them prepare for Congo.
Gilbert Mugisha, Frank Nyago, Paul Ssekandi and Swareh Sebulime will get wild card entries to the qualifying draws.
Centre of attention
Uganda will once again be the center of attention. The event is expected to be graced by over 60 international tennis players from all over the globe.
This is the third successive event Uganda is hosting since the country was re-admitted by the global body after eight years of suspension. Cedric Babu, the UTA chairman commented the work of organisers and sponsors during the launch of the ITF pro circuit program at an event held at the Tennis Club in Lugogo. “This is an opportunity for the local tennis fraternity to build their capacity because event opens a vast network of professionals for us to tap into,” said Cedric Babu, who also urged local sponsors to come on board for the event’s success.
Several local players are anticipating to use the tourney to up their global rankings and also break into major tournaments. Swale Ssebulime, a player who is gearing up for the tournament said; “Its an opportunity for us to reflect on our game and our hope is for one of us to make a feature and probably pull off an upset.”
On the other hand, national tennis icon John Oduke noted that the ITF Circuit has over the years raised the confidence of local players and the image of the game locally.