ITF Men Futures-Rwanda
J.C Gasigwa (Rwa) v P.Barlow (Great Britain)
A. Filenkov (Russia) v O. Nkunda (Rwa)
AFTER witnessing three local players knocked out in the qualifiers of the lucrative ITF Rwanda Men Futures, Rwanda’s faint hopes now rest on wild card entries Jean Claude Gasigwa and Olivier Nkunda.
Mathieu Uwizeyimana and Dieudonne Habiyambere dropped out in the first round (Saturday) while the fighting Mele Bizimana ran out of steam in yesterday’s second and final round.
Uwizeyimana fell to India’s Mali Himananshi 2-6 3-6, Habiyambere lost out to Zimbabwe’s Tinotenda Chanakira 2-6 4-6 while Bizimana, who had seen off Romania’s Stafen Leonte 4-6 7-6 (4) 6-3 on Saturday suffered a 5-7, 3-6 defeat against Senegal’s Daouda Ndiaye on Center court.
Eight players qualified for the 32-man main draw which gets underway this morning at Laico Kigali Umubano, former Novotel.
Gasigwa and Nkunda, the only Rwandan with an ATP ranking (1752) have a lot to play for in the week-long event.
The pair is well aware of Rwanda’s poor record in the tournament. Since 2001 when Rwanda hosted her first Futures event, no local player has made it past the second round of the competition.
Gasigwa, who had an early exit in the Burundi Futures, last week, plays Philip Barlow of Great Britain this afternoon while Nkunda will have a huge mountain to climb when he battles Russia’s Alexei Filenkov tomorrow.
The 28-year-old Russian is ranked 928 and is expected to be a tough opponent for Nkunda.
Barlow is one of eight players who qualified the hard way (qualification round).
Meanwhile, after claiming the Burundi Futures, Adam Vejmelka is without doubt one of the top contenders in Kigali. The Czech outwitted Leonte Bogdan (Romania) in straight sets in the Burundi final.
With a hefty cash package of Rwf5.65m, the winner will pocket a whooping Rwf1.07m while the second and third runners up will bag Rwf0.67m and Rwf0.45m respectively.