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Mpondi downed but Kelllerman, Poluta notch Games wins

By Mark Etheridge
in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Tennis was the first sport served up on day two of the African Region 5 Games here on Saturday.
And although the code started off with defeat in their first match, they bounced back with two quick victories in their next two fixtures.
First up was Musa Mpondi, the tournament’s fourth seed up against Zimbabwean top seed Ronzai Saurombe.
And Mpondi put up a great fight before going down in two tough sets, 6-3 7-6 (7-2).
On a day when gusts of wind made it difficult for players, Mpondi broke in the first serve to lead 3-2 but immediately surrendered his own service and was broken again in the eighth to hand the host nation’s player the first set.
In the second set Mpondi was quickly out to a 3-0 lead and looked like equalling matters at 5-3 and 40-love up but the delight of a boisterous crowd, not that well up to speed with tennis spectatorship etiquette.
Saurombe fought back though and went on to take the match into a tiebreak which he led throughout before clinching it 7-2.
‘It was tough out there,’ Mpondi told Road to Rio 2016. ‘It wasn’t my best match, being 5-3 up and 40-0 but he played three good points.
‘The crowd were really behind him but a bit unfair to scream during the points being played.
‘The heat drains one out there and the wind was quite difficult, especially in the first set.’
On being part of a Team South Africa multicode set-up, the Glenwood High (KwaZulu-Natal) player said: ‘It’s a great experience, meeting new people and seeing how they go about training and trying to better themselves.’
The second player in action was Durbanville’s (Western Cape) Francois Kellerman and the second seed (in a 32-strong field) had a quick no-frills victory, beating Namibian Kudzai Toto in straight sets, 6-2 6-0.
Third out was young Katie Poluta, also from Durbanville and she made quick work of Mozambique’s Deana Da Costa, the powerful little left-hander winning 6-3 6-0.
‘It was hot out there but my main problem was that I was starving all game. We couldn’t eat before the game so I was just very hungry,’ said the 16-year-old Parklands College student.
The fourth of the tennis quarter doing duty for Team South Africa was scheduled for afternoon action. Johannesburg player Caitlin Herb was down to play Botswana’s Nthabiseng Mogopodi.
The women’s draw features 16 players.