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Kyekyo Open tennis unveils future stars

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th September 2007 03:00 AM

THE 2007 Kyekyo Tennis Open tournament at Lugogo was a well contested event both in the women and men’s categories.

THE 2007 Kyekyo Tennis Open tournament at Lugogo was a well contested event both in the women and men’s categories.

By Charles Mutebi

THE 2007 Kyekyo Tennis Open tournament at Lugogo was a well contested event both in the women and men’s categories.

But none among them poses any threat yet to the William sisters or men’s world number one Swiss ace Roger Federer.

Uganda’s tennis hopes must necessarily lie with the next generation and in the hands of Simon Ayella, Lawrence Ssempijja, Derrick Bakuzi and Joel Wambisha — the Under 14 semifinalists of the event.

John Oduke, coach of all but Joel Wambisha states the obvious in referring to them as “talented but needing a lot of hard work” to turn into world beaters.

And therein lies the crux. The long journey from Lugogo to Wimbledon or Flashing Medals will take more than talent to materialise. The good news is that Oduke thinks Uganda has the facilities to turn these toddlers into tennis giants.

Ayella is the leader of this young pack. The 13-year old Kololo SS senior one student also plays cricket and badminton. But it is tennis which might hold his future claim to fame.

“I can play all of them but it is tennis that I like and play most,” says Uganda’s U-14 top seed who has put a number of local tournaments under his belt. But he will have to raise his international stake which was exposed in the Africa Juniors where he was bundled out in the second round.
But in the meantime, his charity is staying at home as his win of the Kyekyo tournament proved.

Ssempijja is the diminutive 12-year old, who was on the receiving end of Ayella’s wrath in the finals. But his short term losses can not mask his incredible talent. Like Ayella, Ssempijja struggles to list all his local successes.

“I have won so many tournaments that I’ve lost count,” Ssempijja says.

The second seed also represented Uganda in the Africa Juniors where he also went down in the second round. The similarities abound: both hail from Kisenyi and, until last year, were pupils of East Kololo Primary School where Ssempija is still in P.6.

But for the lack of any title, Derrick Bakuzi completes the Kisenyi-based trio. The slightly plumb exterior of the 12-year old may not exactly cut the figure of the future Nadal but appearances can be deceiving.

“I play cricket and badminton,” says the multi- talented Bakuzi before addiing that he wants to play tennis as a profession. He is in the final year of his own East Kololo primary chapter.

Joel Wambisha is the outsider. He is based at Mbale Sports Club and the Wamale View SS student did not start playing tennis until last year. The Kyekyo tournament was only his second but he managed to make it to the semi-finals.

The 14-year old, who says he admires Federer’s forehand strokes, won the only other — Mbale Easter tournament earlier in the year.

Kyekyo Open tennis unveils future stars

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