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SPORT

Out of Africa with pride for Bloomfield

July 9, 2002 12:40

NORFOLK tennis ace Richard Bloomfield has returned from two successful tournaments in Africa.

He reached the quarter-final of the men's singles in the F2 Futures tournament in Rwanda, and was winner of the men's doubles, together with his Swedish partner Robert Gustafsson.

He then moved on to Mombassa in Kenya for an F1 Futures tournament in which he lost in the final of the men's singles.

The doubles proved less successful as he exited in the first round to a pair including Norwich's Barry Fulcher.

In Rwanda, Ireland's David Mullins was Bloomfield's first round victim in the singles as the Norfolk player won 2-6 7-5 6-3, and carried his form into the second round where he beat South African Johan Du Randt 4-6 7-6 7-6.

Unfortunately his run ended in the quarter-finals when he lost 7-6 4-6 3-6 to Genius Chidzikwe.

In the doubles Bloomfield and Gustafsson beat Zimbabwe's Zibusiso Ncube and Gwinyai Tongoona 6-2 6-2 in the final.

Bloomfield was installed as the number eight seed for the competition in Kenya, and lived up to his billing as he coasted to the quarter-final by beating Zimbabwe's Jesse Koti 6-2 6-1 in the first round, and Gurarinder Singh, of India, 6-0 6-0 in the second round.

South Africa's Nick McDonald provided a stiffer test in the quarter-finals, winning a set, but Bloomfield went on to beat him 7-5 5-7 6-4.

Bloomfield was again taken to three sets in the semi-final by German Andreas Spaniol, but again triumphed 6-1 0-6 7-6.

Unfortunately he was not able to carry his winning form through to the final and was beaten 6-3 6-3 by Tunisian Oualid Jallali.

Fulcher did not fare as well as his Norfolk colleague in the singles, and the number five seed was knocked out in the first round 6-4 6-2 by Claude N'Goran.

He had better fortunes in the doubles as after he and doubles partner Gwenael Gueit beat Bloomfield and Henry Adjei-Darko 6-2 6-2, they went all the way to the final, only to be beaten 2-6 6-4 6-2 by the number one seeds Chidzikwe and Du Randt.

The tour marked Bloomfield's most successful spell since winning the British Junior Championship and joining the professional ranks although he is currently second place in the bonus pool of the LTA British Tour event.

The points gained from these two events will shoot Bloomfield up the world rankings by around 300 places and is sure to also improve his national ranking by four or five places.

Ironically the outstanding results followed a disastrous start to the tour when Bloomfield lost his baggage at the airport in Rwanda.

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