Triumph and Remembrance: Highlights from the 2024 Genocide Memorial Tennis Tournament

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Niyigena and Umumararungu win 2024 Genocide Memorial Tournament titles.
Niyigena defeats Muhire; Umumararungu overcomes Tuyisenge in finals.
Rukundo, Von Kirchmann win amateur singles; wheelchair category highlights.
Tournament honors genocide victims; future events announced by RTF.

Etienne Niyigena and Gisele Umumararungu emerged victorious in the 2024 Genocide Memorial Tennis Tournament, which concluded at the IPRC-Kigali Ecology tennis courts on Sunday, May 26. The weeklong event, organized by the Rwanda Tennis Federation (RTF), honored the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Men’s Final: Niyigena’s Grit and Determination
In a riveting men’s final, Etienne Niyigena showcased his resilience and skill, defeating Joshua Muhire in three sets (5-7, 6-1, 6-4). The match started with Muhire taking the first set, pushing Niyigena into a corner. However, Niyigena’s tenacity shone through as he dominated the second set 6-1, setting the stage for a gripping final set. With a combination of powerful serves and strategic plays, Niyigena clinched the final set 6-4, securing the title.

Women’s Final: Umumararungu’s Strategic Play
Gisele Umumararungu demonstrated her prowess in the women’s final against Olive Tuyisenge. Umumararungu won the first set decisively 6-1, but Tuyisenge fought back to take the second set 5-7. In the decisive third set, Umumararungu regained control, winning 6-2. Her victory not only earned her the title but also solidified her position as one of the top players set to represent Rwanda at the upcoming Billie Jean King Cup.

Amateur Highlights: Rising Stars
The tournament also highlighted upcoming talent in the amateur categories. Innocent Rukundo won the men’s amateur singles title with a convincing 6-4, 6-2 victory over Evan McDougall. In the women’s amateur singles, Marie Von Kirchmann dominated Margaret Vernon, winning 6-0, 6-0. The mixed amateur doubles saw Antony Hachez and Pauline Jacobs triumph over Quentin Dussart and Marie Von Kirchmann with a 9-4 win, showcasing their synergy and strategic play.

Wheelchair Tennis: Inspiring Performances
The wheelchair singles category provided some of the most inspiring moments of the tournament. Jean Luc Dusengimana defeated Viator Dusabimana 6-0, 6-2 to win the men’s title, while Yvonne Imaniraguha beat Yvonne Imanishimwe 6-4, 6-3 in the women’s final. Their performances highlighted the inclusivity and competitive spirit of the tournament.

Honoring the Past, Looking to the Future
Rwanda Tennis Federation President Theoneste Karenzi praised the participants and emphasized the tournament’s significance. “This was a competitive and memorable tournament. I thank all participants, especially the winners. This tournament honors the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, particularly the sportsmen and sportswomen who played tennis,” Karenzi told Times Sport.

Karenzi also announced the upcoming Kwibohora Tennis Tournament, scheduled for July in celebration of liberation day. This new event promises to build on the success of the Genocide Memorial Tournament, further promoting tennis in Rwanda and honoring the nation’s history.

Voices of Remembrance and Hope
Former tennis player and genocide survivor Joseline Umulisa expressed her gratitude for the event. “This beautiful tournament helps us remember those we lost in the genocide and supports survivors in their journey of recovery,” Umulisa said. Her words reflect the tournament’s deeper purpose, serving as a reminder of the past while fostering a sense of community and resilience.

A Tournament to Remember
The 2024 Genocide Memorial Tennis Tournament was more than just a competition; it was a celebration of resilience, remembrance, and hope.

Moments of the tournament

Niyigena rallies to win three-set thriller against Muhire.
Umumararungu dominates final set to secure women’s title.
Rukundo’s consistent play leads to victory in amateur men’s singles.
Von Kirchmann overwhelms opponent, wins women’s amateur singles 6-0, 6-0.
Dusengimana and Imaniraguha impress in wheelchair singles finals.

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