Exceeding expectations, Israel Dowie (13) makes final in Zim

Andrew Poolman
Thirteen-year-old Namibian tennis prodigy Israel Dowie excelled by advancing to the final of the ITF J30 Bulawayo tournament in Zimbabwe last weekend ? in his first year eligible to compete at the International Tennis Federation’s under-18 World Tennis Tour Juniors level.

The unseeded Cape Town-based Dowie won the semi-final on Friday morning when third-seeded Dehan van Deventer (RSA, 14 years) retired, with the Namibian leading 5-3 in the first set.

Dowie delivered a tremendous upset in his second-round match on Wednesday, eliminating the top seed, 17-year-old Rishi Ragav Janakaraj of India, in a dominating 6-3 6-1 performance.

Janakaraj is currently the 673rd ranked junior on the ITF rankings, while Dowie is placed 1934th (latest raking update on 20 May).

On Thursday, he won the quarter-final against Oluhle Senti (RSA, 6th seed, 15 years old) by 6-1, 6-1.

On Saturday morning, Dowie faced the Zimbabwean home favourite and tournament second seed Ronan Mtisi (aged 16, junior world ranking 979).

Although he lost 6-4 6-1, he certainly made any of the older opponents sit up and take notice of his talent.

The player’s father Duane, a former Davis Cup player for Namibia, says: “We’re just happy that Israel has exceeded the bench-marks laid down by the tennis academy we’re working with. He has already established himself as the number one player at under-14 in South Africa.

“We do not place pressure on Israel and we’re not setting the goal of counting any ranking points earned this year. Getting exposure on the ITF Junior Tour is the only objective.

“We recently signed with Top Seed Management which is the agent for well-known players currently breaking through. We’ll soon go on a five-week tour of Germany to play some more tournaments.”

Duane says the fact that Israel has not had a growth spurt, or reached puberty yet, makes his performances against older and stronger players all the more exciting.

“We had a pediatrician check him out around October last year, when he was already 13 years old, but the finding was that his bone structure has only reached the development of about ten-and-a-half years. So, as he matures he should be more able to match the power of the older kids, which at this stage presents quite a massive difference.”

• The youngest winner of a male ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors tournament, at 13 years and 8 days, is Teodor Davidov of USA who triumphed at J30 Peja in China in September 2023.

Dowie’s 14th birthday will be on 26 October.