The 2016 Rwanda Tennis Open top two contenders Ernest Habiyambere and Uganda’s Duncan Mugabe are both promising to live up to their billing when the main event starts today and runs until September 26 at Amahoro National Stadium outdoor tennis courts.
Returning after 15 years, this year’s edition has attracted elite players from Rwanda and in the region, among them is DR Congo’s reigning African champion Denis Indondo (winner of 2015 All African Games), Kenya’s Ibrahim Kibet and Mugabe.
Speaking to Times Sport on Monday, Mugabe acknowledged the tournament is a great opportunity for the regional players to showcase their talent, revealing that he has come to Rwanda with only one objective on his mind—to win the competition.
“I believe that the way I have been preparing for this tournament puts me in a good position to win it, but of course I expect tough challenge from the local players,” said the 25-year-old Mugabe, who is Uganda’s number one.
The reigning Uganda Open champion added, “I am aware of the big names that will be participating, but I am a bigger name given my ITF ranking, the time I have been in this sport, yes I respect all the players and anything can happen but I am here to win.”
On the other hand, Rwanda’s number one, Habiyambere, is too not taking anything for granted and says he hopes to use home advantage to put on a good fight.
“This is a very big competition with the best players from the region but I have faced many of these names before and basing on how I have prepared, I feel optimistic to challenge for the title,” said the 18-year-old, who is the youngest local top seed.
Six countries will be represented and they include; Burundi, Tanzania, DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya and hosts Rwanda.
By press time, the draws for the main event were yet to be made.
The event, which is organized by the Rwanda Tennis Federation in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports and Culture (MINISPOC), will see the winners take home US$1000 (men) and US$700 (women) in prize money.