Best of the Best: tennis ace Tongoona

Gwinyai Tongoona, one of the most popular home-grown tennis stars, was the first black player to represent the country in the Davis Cup. He shares his Best of the Best:

Best accolade

Winning the Mashonaland Open Senior at Old Hararians Sports Club, I think it was in 1991. That was probably the first time I played well throughout. I caused upsets in the quarters, semis and final to win my first senior event.

Best match

The Davis Cup Doubles match I played with Genius Chidzikwe against Norway at the Harare Sports Club in 2006. Although we lost the tie (Zimbabwe lost 4-1 overall), it was our first win in a live rubber and we both enjoyed the match, the pressure and playing in front of a cheering crowd.

Favourite player

I do not really have a favourite player. I love watching the game, both men and women players. I always look forward to watching Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Both play differently to the rest of the guys on the tour and at some point, they took tennis to another level. And it is amazing to see Serena Williams still improving her game at her age! As a young boy, I really enjoyed watching John McEnroe. He had a unique style and his touch shots were amazing.

Best venue

The City Sports Centre, especially during Davis Cup ties, had an unbelievable atmosphere. However, my favourite venue since I was young is the Old Hararians Sports Club. I still hope one of these days I can play one more tournament there.

Best local player

Byron Black was the best player for me. He was tough and was competitive against any opponent whether it was the Davis Cup or on tour. Byron also had the best backhand and best return of serve!

Best surface

My favourite surface is grass but I did not get enough chances to play it. I used to practice on grass in Highlands while I was still a junior and I absolutely loved it.

Best memory

Being the first black tennis player to make the Davis Cup team and play my first match in 1994 will always evoke good memories. I hope that it inspires other younger players to work hard.

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