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Local starís dream of joining Nadal academy in danger

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Star in the making: Refilwe prepares to return the ball PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Upcoming tennis star, Ekua Refilwe Youriís dream of joining the Rafael Nadal tennis academy in Spain, hangs in the balance due to financial challenges.

Youri, 13, was invited for trials at the academy last year and she impressed.  Her mother, Wendy Molefi-Youri told Mmegi Sport on the sidelines of the ongoing Africa Junior Championship (AJC) at Notwane courts that her child’s dream might go up in smoke due to lack of finance.

She appealed to potential sponsors to assist her daughter to travel to Spain. Molefi-Youri said the academy is good as it combines tennis and education to ensure that players can follow their tennis career without having to forsake their academic progress.

“My daughter had interest in playing tennis at the tender age of three. She used to go with her father and brother to the tennis court.”

Molefi-Youri said before long, her daughter was invited for her first trials at a tennis academy in the United Kingdom. Youri excelled and was admitted. She said her daughter progressed quickly and they realised that she had enthusiasm.

“Tennis is an expensive sport hence some young players are unable to progress. I do not want my daughter’s dream to be short-lived. I want to see her becoming number one in the world,” she

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said.

Molefi-Youri said they are keeping their fingers crossed, with hope that the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) through Botswana Tennis

Association (BTA) would one day come to their rescue.

She urged BTA to come up with the right development structures. Youri, meanwhile, said she was inspired by Serena Williams to pursue tennis.

The UK-based player said it was her first time to represent Botswana after she was chosen to be part of the AJC team.

“I came here in December but I was informed about the AJC championship. Then the coach invited me to camp and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands,” she said.

Youri said the challenge during the tournament has been the heat, especially that she is used to low temperatures and now she is playing in temperatures in excess of 35 degrees. In her first match, Youri beat a Mozambican opponent and then lost to a South African.

“The South African was taller and she played high balls making it difficult for me to defend,” she said.

“My dream is to see myself seeded number one in world,” she said. The AJC ends next Tuesday.



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