Saturday, January 22, 2022

Ftown School of Tennis spotlights talented starlets

The newly established Francistown School of Tennis’ says it endeavours to unearth talented young athletes who can represent the country on the international arena. The Francistown based school, which started operating at the beginning of March, was established in February earlier this year.

While the school will offer people of all ages in the Francistown area to play the sport, the main objectives of the school are ‘to develop tennis players that are competitive internationally as well as to offer children an opportunity to get international exposure through tennis and have access to renowned Universities with Tennis scholarships’, said the school’s Director Dominique Raguin.

Founded by a team of husband and wife, namely Dominique and Segametse Raguin, the school, which has former Botswana National team player Oaitse Thipe as its coach is now said to have over 30 children and 15 adults training at its grounds on an ongoing basis.

“However, through our diverse programmes, them being tennis camps, pre-school programmes and ongoing development and training programmes, we have had over 150 children trained in a way or another in our school,” the school’s Director explained.

According to Raguin, the idea to set up a professional school of tennis came ‘when observing that while children were hanging around in the afternoon without anything to do, significant tennis infrastructure was lying around unused.’

A holder of a Bachelor of Sciences (B.S.c) in Sport specialising in High Performance, Raguin, who says he has always harboured ambitions to develop a high performance Centre in Botswana together with his wife, a former school tennis player, decided then to set up the school.

Raguin says the school runs three programmes in its structures, them being the Pre-School programme, the Leisure Development Programme and the Intensive Development Programme.

According to the school Director, the Pre-School Programme, which is aimed at kids, is an introduction to mini-tennis and preparatory work to improve agility, coordination abilities, and basic tennis skills. The Leisure Development Programme on the other hand is meant to ‘introduce people of all ages and helping them improve their game in a fun and playful environment.’

“The focus of this programme is to get people into tennis by making them improve their game while having fun and enjoying it,” Raguin explained. “The Intensive Development Programme on the other hand is for people of all ages who are committed to tennis and want to train hard in order to maximize their progress. The focus here is to progress as fast as possible.”

Under coach Thipe, who is assisted by another local, Trevor Morekisi, the school boasts of experienced coaches who have played tennis internationally.

“Our Head Coach Thipe started tennis at the age of 9 and represented Botswana internationally for a number of years. He is the only Motswana coach with over 4 years coaching experience in Tennis Academies in the USA; qualified under the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), he is also a certified Tournament Director under the US Tennis Association,” Raguin explained.

“Morekisi, who started tennis at age 6, has competed locally and internationally until the age of 21 when he then opted for a coaching career,” the Francistown School of Tennis Director said.

As part of its grassroots development programme, Raguin says the school has partnered with internationally acclaimed tennis equipment supplier, Babolat, to run its development programmes in the form of the Babolat Peewee & under 12 tournaments.

The acclaimed tennis equipment supplier is also the official supplier of the French Open. The 2nd tournament, which is ongoing and will be coming to an end today, ‘is aimed at supporting grassroots development by providing exposure for young players aged 4 to 12.’

Raguin says the tournament ‘offers children the opportunity to play against children from other clubs and making them enjoy tennis through a fun event organized in a format adapted to their morphology and physical abilities like mini-tennis, ┬¥ court tennis, full court with green ball, and full court with adult balls for 12 & Under, ‘not only help them improve their skills but also make them develop a love for the game.’

With the first tournament having been attended by 38 children, the ongoing tournament was expected to attract at least 50 participants, with players coming from all over Botswana as well as from Zimbabwe.

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