By Alex Osei-Boateng
ACCRA, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Ghana is eyeing gold medals in the upcoming African Junior Tennis championship slated for Kenya from March 18-23.
"We have prepared the team adequately and we hope to win more gold medals for the country," Enock Amartey, president of the Ghana Tennis Association (GTA), told Xinhua via telephone on Friday.
Four players of the national team left Accra Tuesday to participate in the event which will be held at the Nairobi Club and the Public Service Club in Kenya.
Amartey said the association had hit the ground running with its talent hunt program, adding that it recently organized numerous tournaments to unearth more talents for upcoming zonal, regional and international future assignments.
Several of Ghana's top tennis stars are aging but Amartey said efforts were being made to put together a formidable national team by blending young players with experienced ones.
Ghana has continuously put up impressive performances at the tournament over the past four years.
Isaac Nortey and Maxwell Akpene last year won Ghana's first gold medal in the African junior tennis tournament after more than 20 years.
Teams that will participate in the event include Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho and Libya.
The rest are Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.
Hosts Kenya will field a squad of 13 players.
Players who qualified by taking part in one of three zonal championships which took place in January and February this year in West and Central Africa, Southern Africa and East Africa began warm-up exercises at the event venue this week ahead of the championships.
The tournament, which offers competition in two age categories, namely 16 and under-14 years and below, has attracted entries from 58 boys and 53 girls from 26 countries and regions.
The warm-up tournament allows the African players to adapt to local conditions in preparation for the all-important African Junior Championships to take place at the same venue next week.
Feed-in consolation events are organized so that players have the opportunity to play a singles match every day to prepare adequately in advance of the continent's most prestigious junior tennis event.
Both events are being hosted by the Kenya Lawn Tennis Association (KLTA) in collaboration with the International Boxing Federation (ITF) and the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT).
During the tournament, over 40 delegates from various federations of African nations will assemble in Nairobi from March 19-21 for the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) Annual General Meeting.
The meeting, which will be chaired by current CAT Chairman Tarak Cherif of Tunisia, will be attended by ITF Federation Director of Development Dave Miley.
It will also discuss the new proposal to send talented players to Morocco to perfect their skills, owing to its proximity to Europe. The confederation has 50 members.