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Grand Slam history beckons for local players

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Rising star: Seetso is part of a crop of young players PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
The future looks bright for junior tennis players who continue to prove their mettle in international competitions.

The current crop of players seems to be on the verge of making history by becoming the first group to feature in junior Grand Slams.

Denzel Seetso (15), Mark Nawa (14) and Leungo Monnayoo (16), who are locally based and Ekua Refilwe Youri, who is in Barcelona, Spain, are amongst the cream of emerging junior players.

The locally based crew is under coach, Phenyo Matong, and Seetso and Monnayoo were part of last year’s Botswana Games team. The players are part of the Elite Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) programme.

“Seetso made an impact last year in Europe and Florida (US) when he beat some of the world’s best prospects and finished the year ranked number one in Africa Under 14. Our plan is to make sure that these four players qualify for the next Olympic Games through the long term player development. You are probably looking at your Coco Gauff,” BTA president, Oaitse Thipe said.

He said Youri impressed many coaches last year when she was playing in South Africa and Zimbabwe circuits with her power hand. Nawa has defied all odds to win tournaments in Africa. He said the challenges that

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BTA and parents face are maintaining players, training and making sure that they compete in various tournaments around the world.

Thipe said as it stands, Seetso, Youri and Nawa have the potential to qualify for the junior Grand Slams in future, if BTA continues with the Long Term Development Plan (LTDP) and they also stand a chance to qualify for the 2020 Youth Olympics 2022.

Another promising junior player, Tshegofatso Tsiane was scheduled to play in the junior Grand Slams qualifiers but the outbreak of the coronavirus might put paid to her dreams. This is her last year as a junior since she turns 18 later in the year.

“Tsiane is also part of the young generation that we expect a lot from. She was ranked in the top 200 worldwide early this year. She stood a chance to play the qualifiers for the junior Grand Slams, but unfortunately COVID-19 pandemic has ruined her chances. It is her last year as a junior and it means next year she either has to play as a professional player or play college tennis in United States of America,” he said.



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