While Botswana has the capacity to produce professional players in future, a lot needs to be done to achieve the aim. This is according to Spain’s former number two ranked ladies’ tennis player, Maria Jose Llorca Pons.
After six weeks of conducting intensive training camps with some of the country’s emerging young talent, Llorca Pons said she has been impressed by the enthusiasm and abundant talent in the country. Speaking in an interview, the former Spanish number two, who is in the country at the invitation of the Francistown School of Tennis said most of the kids she had coached during her short stay in the country were in par with those in Europe and could make the professional with proper guidance.
She however said due to lack of clubs and tournaments, the emerging talent will be stifled and will not realise its full potential. She said for the local kids to realise their potential, they need to have at least two tournaments per month as compared to the current scenario where they have two tournaments in a year. According to the former Spanish number two ladies player, while there is little or no difference between the young talent and their counterparts from Europe, the difference, due to lack of playing regular tournaments for local players, will show when they reach the ages of 14 and 16 years as local players will be knowledgeable on how to hit the balls but will not be able to play as well as their European age mates.
She said because there are no regular competitions locally, the emerging talent will never be able to know how to manage competitive games. “What is needed is for the local tennis authorities to have circuits around the country. This will allow for the kids to travel around the country and compete and be given rankings. The best ones will then be taken to compete outside the country,” Llorca Pons said. Another area that needs to be looked at, according to Llorca Pons, is the establishment of community clubs. She said while there are facilities, lack of community clubs means the emerging talent is only limited to at least an hour of training as compared to the 6 ÔÇô 8 hours of training a week needed.
On the issue of coaching, Llorca Pons said it is necessary for local coaches to have an experienced and highly qualified coach who can give them proper guidance on how to train and handle kids.“I believe that the local tennis body would do well to bring a highly qualified coach to work with emerging talent and coaches to build capacity. Having three day courses once in a year will not help, there is need for continuous training,” Llorca Pons explained.
Having also had a chance to work with some local coaches, she said what impressed her was the enthusiasm shown by the coaches she has been working with over her short stay in the country. Asked whether she would be willing to come back into the country to help should she be called, Llorca Pons, who has many years experience as a coach and has the highest coaching licence in Spain said she would consider such an offer though she could not take such a decision on her own.