The 2nd Euphemia Tlhapane Junior memorial tennis open has provided scouts with an opportunity to identify talent. The grade 5 under 18 tournament kick started this Monday at Notwane courts with at least 13 countries partaking in the tourney. Several talent scouts have swarmed the venue looking for future stars as they anticipate another great tournament.
Prince Madema, one of the scouts spotted at the venue, revealed that Botswana has a lot of talent that needs to be groomed from grassroots. “This country has unbelievable talent that can compete if spotted early. These local open tournaments are exciting in the sense that they provide us with the opportunity to identify talent. It is critical to develop players at grassroots level so that they get ready to compete against the best in future,” Madema told The Telegraph.
One of the young stars under the tutelage of Madema at the tournament is Pretoria based Tsegofatso Tsiang. She is training at the University of Pretoria high performance centre with Tuks Tennis club. “I have been working with Tsiang for some time now and she is doing very well, at the moment we want to work on her rankings so that she may compete in a better grade in the near future. I have also identified some good players and it will be worthwhile for them to train in conducive environments for their growth as athletes,” said Madema.
Madema also said, “It should be understood that there are a lot of opportunities for tennis players. Some USA colleges often give out scholarships for players they want to use in college leagues. In such cases, a tennis player still stands a chance to excel academically,” said Madema.
For his part, Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) Secretary General Boikobo Gaolebalwe is equally impressed with the talent on display. He said hosting such international events is critical for growth of local players. He mentioned that locals learn a lot from their counterparts who come with vast international experience. “Firstly as hosts we get a chance to bring more players and these youngsters are exposed to matches at competitive levels. These tournament is recognised by International Tennis Federation (ITF) and players accumulate points which motivates players as some rise higher in rankings,” said Gaolebale.
Botswana Games champion Kekebogile Monnayoo and runners up Thandie Kololo are some of the players competing at the tournament. Meanwhile, ITF/CAT will host the under 12 and 14 tournament from the 5th -15th May at Notwane courts.