Magarira in 1st ITF semis

HARARE - Zimbabwe junior tennis player Rufaro Magarira defied odds by qualifying for the semi-finals of the ongoing ITF Under 18 Pettit Camp in Mauritius yesterday.

The 13-year-old tennis star beat fourth seed Trisha Vinod of India 6-1 5-7 6-2 in the girls’ singles main draw quarter-final to book a semi-final berth today against second seeded Zara Lennon of Mauritius.

In the first round, she won 6-0 6-0 against Sharlyn Mallory Chan Tam Neng of Mauritius before beating South Africa’s Tamsim Hart seeded number eight 5-7 6-2 6-2 in the second round.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to reach my first ITF 18 junior semi-finals credit to my coach who has been worked hard with me in training day in day out, week in week out. This is testimony that hard work pays off,” Magarira told the Daily News from Mauritius yesterday.

“It’s a huge achievement but I’m now looking forward to another huge upset, it’s not going to be easy playing against a second seed ranked 391 in the world and a native of Mauritius who will have home advantage on her side but I will give it my all and make my country proud.”

Farayi Tapfuma, who is Magarira’s coach, was spellbound.

“What a brilliant performance from the 13-year-old...unbelievable.

“We will work on a few tactical areas otherwise she is ready and focussed on the war ahead tomorrow,” Tapfuma said yesterday.

Magarira started playing tennis aged eight with the ex-Lilfordia school girl making a mark in the first team while in Grade Four.

At 10, she impressed at Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France and was immediately offered a place at the academy, run and owned by Patrick Mouratoglou — who is also the coach of international tennis ace Serena Williams.

Magarira has been in France for three years now after the humble beginnings with her coach Tapfuma at Alexandra Sports Club.

She has impressed in France rising to become one of the top junior players at the academy and in the country.

A very shy girl but focussed on the court “only the sky is the limit if she remains mentally strong and dedicated,” reckons her coach Tapfuma.

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