Local tennis team comes short

17th January 2018
LOCAL TENNIS… Local players faced regional rivals Source:The Midweek Sun


By Sun Reporter - Reporter

Botswana national junior tennis team coach Kagiso Kelebeile this week expressed satisfaction over his team’s performance during the recent African Junior tennis zonal championships held in Gaborone. The weeklong Southern African regional championships, concluded earlier this week. The tournament was used as a qualifier for the African junior championships finals scheduled for March in Tunisia.

Botswana was represented by a total of 24 junior players in the Under 14 & 16 categories. In an interview with Sun Sports this week, Kelebeile said despite his team getting knocked out in the preliminary rounds of the tournament, the players put up a fight against tough opposition from other Southern African nations. “The results and the match scores do not explain the determination our players held to win throughout the tournament.

Most of the matches were ending in deciding sets because our players were putting up a fight at all times,” Kelebeile said. In addition, Kelebeile said they fell short of wins in the team event after the girl’s under 16 team of Tshegofatso Tsiang and Anele Maplanka made it all the way to the semi-finals after ousting Lesotho in a clean sweep of singles and doubles matches. “Tshegofatso and Anele played a beautiful tournament their encounter with Lesotho and their playing styles was proof that local kids are as talented as rival countries,” he said. According to Kelebeile, the tennis team has the right tools to play and compete against the big guns in the tennis fraternity. What holds them back is lack of quality competition in local shores.

“Our kids play less than ten tournaments in a year whereas their opponents from South Africa and the likes of Mauritius compete in close to thirty tennis tournaments in a year and that automatically gives them an upper hand over our kids,” he said. “The kids are always willing to learn and play more matches but the resources such as funds for tennis tournaments are limiting their ambitions to reach their true potential.” Kelebeile argued that another contributing factor to their decline is commitment of local athletes to other things besides tennis.

“We have kids going to school for eight hours or more and only coming for training for less than three hours. This alone needs to be looked since kids that possess a certain level of skill in sports should be accorded the same opportunity to develop it just like at school,” he said. Kelebeile added that he will go back to the drawing board together with his technical team to prepare as early as now for the next championships to be hosted by the International tennis federation in April where players aged under 18 will be allowed an opportunity to represent the country.

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