Tshegofatso Tsiang dreams of one day winning tennisí ultimate prize, the Grand Slam. The 15-year-old is fresh from winning the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) junior female sports person of the year award last Saturday.
The award means a lot to her and she is focused on her dream of landing a first Grand Slam title at the age of 20, a gargantuan task by any standards.
She is targeting at least five Grand Slams in her career and she frequently imagines herself holding the US Open or Wimbledon trophies.
Her aim is to rise to the top 10 junior players at Under-18 level.
Tsiang did not hide her excitement when she spoke about her journey in tennis thus far. She started playing tennis when she was around seven-years-old at the Gaborone Technical College (GTC) courts.
“We were introduced into tennis by our father; me and my twin brother (Tsholofelo). It was a way of taking us out of the house because we spent most of our time watching television,” she explained.
Tsiang said when she started playing tennis, she did not care about winning or losing, all she wanted was to enjoy the game. She said the important thing is to improve in each game and succeed. In 2012, Tsiang moved to South Africa at the age of 11 after being identified by a coach called Prince Madema. From 2014, she was at the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria for three years. At the beginning of this year, she joined her brother at Riaan Venter tennis academy in Potchefstroom. Tsiane said she has grown as a player, adding that moving to a different HPC has been a blessing.
Regarding winning the BNSC award, Tsiang said it meant a lot to her.
“The win has increased my potential and (shows) that I can do better. My work is being recognised in Botswana. It has encouraged me to do better moving forward,” she said.
Tsiang had a decent 2016, making the doubles finals, two semi and quarter finals for singles and won an Under-14 tournament
“To my peers out there, If you love something, go for it, do not be scared of risks, not just tennis but other sport that they love,” she advised.
Tsiang said her role model is Maria Sharapova as she has overcome a difficult period that involved doping, to make a come back. Tsiang’s father, Oshinka said he did not want his children to stay home doing nothing.
He said it was easy for him to pick tennis for them because they are twins and could play together. “It is a long road, there are challenges along the way.
They are growing as people and need to make sure of the environment they are in. I am certain that the place they are at is good. Tennis is an expensive sport,” he said.
Oshinka said as for Tshegofatso it is better because she has BNSC elite sponsorship, but he has to pay for Tsholofelo from his pocket.
He said to raise an elite sportsperson, the ecosystem should be right. Oshinka said it is not easy for Botswana to get ITF scholarships. He said his son plays well and should be benefiting from scholarships.
“I have to spend R18,000 monthly for academy fees. That does not include resources such as shoes, rackets, touring and food. It is tough when you are not working. It is a tough situation, but when you have a dream, you keep going for it,” he said. Oshinka advised parents not to let costs stop them when they have a dream that they want to realise.
Full names: Tshegofatso Tsiang
Date of birth: 10/03/2002
Hobbies: Watching movies, playing football and swimming