Tennis is making the right noise

Football's shenanigans have held almost every local sports person captive, such that the wonderful performance of other codes has almost gone under the radar. Ntungamili Raguin's triumph in Uganda over the weekend was a glorious reminder of the positive strides that tennis is making.

Raguin beat an Indian opponent in the final of the ITF J30 tournament. The future of tennis appears bright and every shoulder should be on the wheel to ensure the upward trajectory is maintained. I don't want to assume that the success that tennis is recording is accidental. I believe it is down to deliberate programmes by the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) as the sport has very young and vibrant talent coming through its ranks. There is Mark Nawa, Raguin, Chelsea Chakanyuka, Denzel Seetso, Tshepo Mosarwa, Batshumi Marobela, Kao Lenkopane, Tsholo Tsiang, Thato Holmes, Ekua Refilwe Youri, among a host of good players that are the current pride of the tennis community.

This should not be a flash in the pan but be sustained to ensure the continued growth of the sport. Very soon the country should have participation in the junior grand slams as an entry point. Tennis will, next month, host the 2024 Davis Cup Africa Group V tournament, a high level competition, which Botswana should fully utilise to showcase its blooming talents. More competitions, particularly across Africa are key for the sustained progress of the players as they will be able to gauge their strength against strong opponents. The Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) should be flexible in its treatment of National Sport Associations (NSAs) and those that make positive strides should be rewarded accordingly. I am aware of the BNSC's tier system, which grades codes according to their performance and the hope is that this is done in a fair and transparent manner to ensure that deserving disciplines are not disadvantaged.

Sport's bane has always been a meagre budget, with some allocated amounts that are only enough to organise their annual general meetings. At this rate, sport will not grow, particularly the so-called minority codes that struggle to raise funding outside of the BNSC grant. It is not of their making as the local market to source sponsorship is very limited. No matter how much some try, even with the positive performances and the right image, they struggle to secure funding. Codes like tennis should not tire but continue putting the hard work, which in turn will, hopefully, nudge the BNSC and the corporate sector into action. Oaitse Thipe and your team, you might not grab the headlines or not get regular mention from the authorities, but that should not discourage you to keep the fire burning. Your efforts will get due reward; it might not be today but your tomorrow looks assuring.


Editor's Comment
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