For the past few years, the progression and development of tennis locally has been stagnant, if not on the decline.
The Botswana national tennis team has been showing listless displays in international competitions and after a lot of promise in the past years of going up the rankings in the Davies Cup, the country has slumped.
These displays, coupled with the general collapse of local tennis structures, are what the newly elected Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) committee led by Oshinka Tsiang are inheriting as they start their term at the helm of BTA.
As the incoming president, even Tsiang himself is under no illusion as to the difficult task that lies ahead.
“There are a lot of challenges we are facing as the BTA. First of all, tennis progress in Botswana has been stagnant and our performance on the international arena has not been very good,” Tsiang told Standard Sport in an interview. “I believe we now have to relook and rethink our objectives, more especially when it comes to international competitions,” he added.
According to Tsiang, the first and best way out of the current situation that the BTA is facing is to put in place strategies ‘to revive tennis in Botswana”.
The priority, according to the BTA president, is to first look into the development of tennis locally.
“Fortunately for tennis, unlike many other sporting codes in Botswana, we have reasonably good facilities. Ours is just to create a suitable environment for the sport to grow,” says Tsiang.
To show commitment towards creating such an environment, Tsiang says the first thing his association will do in the coming year is to “host a level one coaching course” to develop coaches who will help in the development of players.
The intention, according to Tsiang, is for BTA to have coaches countrywide so that they can help create a base of players for selection into the national teams. To achieve this, the BTA president says they will also have to go on an educational drive to bring parents on board as they are the major stakeholders in the development of the sport in the country.
He says while junior tennis is active, the same cannot be said of senior tennis and this has led to players to be lost to the sport once they pass the junior tennis stage.
“We therefore have to create a league so that these players can have something to play for and be active in tennis, thus we can keep a lot of our players and have a pool to choose from for our national teams,” says the BTA president.
Another area of concern for Tsiang is the involvement of women in tennis. He says while there are plenty of talented ladies in the country, the unfortunate thing is that there are less women actively playing tennis. As such, Tsiang says BTA will also have women focussed programmes to redress the imbalance. In the long run, the BTA president says they will also have to create a core of players whom they will concentrate on and develop for the national teams. Once these players reach the expected level of competitiveness, it is then that they will be entered to compete in the international arena. Tsiang further said they will be looking to create good networks with countries like South Africa, which have robust structures to give them pointers on how to develop the sport of tennis locally.
On whether the committee’s two-year-term in office is enough to see them achieve all they have to do, Tsiang had this to say, “Two years may not be enough to carry out and complete our strategy, but it is enough to create a solid foundation on which to work.”