By Ali Mutanje
The inaugural Beach Tennis African Cup for the Southern and Eastern regions took place on Wednesday 19th May 2021 at Badplaas Resort in Mpumalanga South Africa.
The event was supposed to feature 8 teams. Unfortunately only 3 showed up. Uganda, Mozambique and South Africa.
This did not stop the tournament from going on in a tri-team kind of format.
Uganda faced Mozambique in both the women and men categories.
Moses Bashaasha and Jonathan Mugisha represented Uganda against Mozambique’s Jaime Siguagui and Selio Carlos.
Uganda took the early lead in the first set at 3-1. Mozambique rallied back to lead 6-4. Uganda won the second set 6-3 to force a tie break.
Into the tie breaker, Uganda took the early lead at 4-1 before Mozambique again rallied back to tie at 5-5. They were inspired to win the tiebreaker 10-05 and subsequently the match 6-4, 3-6 and 10-05.
Uganda’s Patience Athieno and Sandra Khisa went up against Ubeya Bique and Anna Vasilis of Mozambique in the female category.
They got to a flying start with a 3-0 lead. Mozambique put up a spirited fight to equal at 4-4 and win the first set 6-4.
Uganda started the second set strongly again only to throw it away again and lose the second set 6-4. Mozambique won the match 6-4,6-4.
The Ugandan pair of Moses Bashaasha and Sandra Khissa was desperate not to go down 3-0. However, Mozambique’s Jaime Sigauque and Ubeyla Bique were full of confidence and ensured that the tie was completed 3-0 with a 6-3 7-5 victory to end the opening day’s play.
In the Thursday morning session, South Africa were victorious in all three matches against Mozambique without losing a game.
Mozambique were forced to sit out the mixed doubles when Ana Vasilis injured her wrist, attempting to dive for a ball at the end of the first set.
This left Uganda with the uphill struggle of having to defeat South Africa 3-0 in an attempt to force a three-way tie within the group, with South Africa and Mozambique being level with one victory each.
Uganda as usual started strongly, but again they put the foot off the pedal and the hosts went ahead, wrapping up the tie 3-0 with relative ease to earn their qualification spot.
With both victories, South Africa clinched the southern and eastern African spot in this year’s ITF Beach Tennis World Cup, which is due to take place in October.
Next up are the Individual Championships where the players will partner each other in men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles events over this weekend.