Futures tournament makes debut in Burundi
Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi held the nations first ever Futures tournament on the ITF Men's Circuit last week and for a country coming from the brink of war and Genocide, this tennis event changed the perceptions of many.
The winner of the event, sixth seed Andre Begemann from Germany summed it up in his speech when he said “I had my doubts coming to Africa for the first time let alone Burundi, going by website information”. He was, however, impressed by the level of the organization, given that it was the first time they had organized a Futures tournament.
The Entente sportive club was a beehive of activity with tennis fans flocking in daily to watch the high level of tennis being played. The event attracted players from Europe, Asia, USA, Australia and Africa and was well run by the Burundi Tennis Federation. The event is part of the on going series (with Rwanda and Uganda) of ITF Men’s Circuit of Futures Tournaments in the East African region.
The Men’s final proved to be a breath taking state of affairs between Andre Begemann from Germany and Gvidas Sabeckis, the second seed, from Lithuania. The initial stage of the first set was well balanced with both players taking their chances which led to a tiebreaker, which Begemaan won 7-2. The crowd was kept on the edge of their seats by the execution of shots and they had difficulty choosing a favourite as both players displayed some brilliant tennis.
In the second set, Begemann had to change his tactics, especially on the return of serve where he started chipping and charging and eventually forced a break. This paid off as he managed to hold his serve in the 10th game, to wrap up the match 76(2) 64, and claim the third singles title of his career to date.
This event proved, where there is will nothing is impossible. When the ITF Development Officer made his first visit in 1999, an event like this was a mere dream, however, today the country is a force to reckon with in running and winning events in the region. Currently, they are on the verge of hosting the first ever East Africa High Performance Training Centre.
(click the link to see pictures of the event)