Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hassan In Close Call

Sadili's own Hassan continued to impress pundits with his performance at Junior Wimbledon, being the only wild card to go through the qualifying round successfully to enter the second week and making his first kill in the first round of the main draw, and bouncing into the second round with gusto yesterday. After grabbing a strong first set 6-4 and setting up to grab the second, Hassan had to take a rain break at 5-5 against his favoured opponent, Frederico Ferre Silva in what was a nail-biting experience for the crowd that gathered in the dreary English weather to watch an unexpectedly exciting Junior Wimbledon match.

As they returned to resume their match a couple of hours later, it appeared that the news had spread, a little (and only) African boy was playing some inspirational tennis and his match was "a must watch". The stands were full now, and the atmosphere was electric. For Hassan, this was yet another chance to play his best, and he did not let his supporters down, giving as good as he got, varying hos shots between flats, slices, drop shots and topspin, in what was considered by many, and amazingly positive change of game, from the standard fare that has become the style of players at the Grand Slam. Hassan's opponent, Frederico Ferre Silva came into this round having upset the 12th seed of the tournament, and it showed in the level of play, which Hassan made up for with "gutsyness" and sheer wit.

The second set went to Frederico, 7-5 and was followed by a closely contested final set, that saw Hassan lose the set and match at 4-6, down, but not out! This match raised a lot of interest in African Tennis and was widely covered by media. Hassan becomes the first Burundian to play a Wimbledon Junior and an inspiration to all, especially the kids of his former training academy, Sadili Oval, on the outskirts of Kibera, Africa's largest slum, who received a blow by blow account through friends and Hassan himself (afterwards). 

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