ITF turns down Bhunu appeal

HARARE - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has turned down an appeal by Zimbabwean junior tennis ace Valeria Bhunu to have her two-month suspension lifted.

The 17-year-old rising star was suspended from taking part in junior tournaments by ITF after her late withdrawal from last month’s Australian Junior Open.

 Tennis Zimbabwe (TZ) vice-president Regis Bhunu, who is also the player’s father, confirmed the ban will stand and said she will miss three crucial tournaments in the process.

 “ITF turned down our appeal arguing that the young girl did not notify them in time about her withdrawal from the Australian Junior Open,” Bhunu told the Daily News yesterday.

 Bhunu added that although Valeria is suspended from taking part in junior tournaments, she is free to participate in senior events.

 “Valeria is free to participate in senior tournaments. We are yet to decide whether she should now fully concentrate on senior tournaments or remain with the juniors. But we are earmarking her for the Junior Roland Garros in June, which is quite a big stage.”

 Bhunu’s suspension came as a major blow to Zimbabwe’s Under 18 Africa Junior Championship team, which performed dismally at the Potchefstroom tournament last week.

Most of the country’s representatives were knocked out in the early rounds.

Alwyn Mushonga, Ronzai  Saurombe, Benjamin Lock, Taremeredzwa Mariga and Luca Picci represented the country in the boys’ category with Latifah Yasini, Zarha Finnigan, Dzenga and Tshatedi were the girls’ representatives. -  Blessings Mashaya

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