Denzel Seetso has risen to the top of the tennis rankings in the Under-14 category in Africa.
Seetso, who developed the love for tennis at a tender age, is only 13 but already ranked number one in Africa.
“I had to work hard to be where I am right now. Last year I was the youngest in the Africa juniors’ top 10. Those players have now graduated to Under 16,” said Seetso who turns 14 in April.
He said being number one is exciting and the hard work of the past six years is paying dividends. Seetso added that the achievement drives him to push further so that he could get into the world rankings. “At the moment it is just African rankings. I have the opportunity for automatic entry at the Africa Junior Championship. Other players have to go through zonal competitions,” the Gaborone-born star said. Seetso said if he finishes in the top four at the junior championships, he would stand a chance of playing in the European tour.
He started playing tennis with a group of his likeminded friends. “We were still students at Baobab Primary School and they used to encourage me to come and join them. They told me that there was a lot of fun and I started playing at school in 2013,” he revealed. Seetso said the school’s coach organised a training camp during holidays, which he attended and that is where he improved his skills.
He went through two coaches before Phenyo Matong took over the reins, towards the end of 2014. The young Seetso continued excelling in junior competitions, which saw him awarded the International Tennis Federation (ITF) scholarship in Kenya. “I was there for a year and I am now back home training with Matong. It was tough at the ITF Centre. We had lots of physical fitness trainings and challenging exercises,” he said. At the 2019 ITF South Zonal Championship held in Namibia, Seetso scooped gold and was part of the team that finished in second position. The boy said his role models are Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
“Nadal is hard working and you can see it. He is passionate and it is inspiring to watch him. As for Federer, he makes it look easy and natural. I would like to have both elements,” he said.
Meanwhile his mother, Martina said raising a tennis player comes with many responsibilities. She said it requires a lot of money especially when it comes to traveling to attend tournaments, which are important in keeping up rankings.
“Denzel must have coaches and they come with a cost. Equipment such as racquets and shoes are expensive. I am paying for those things from my pockets. It is a difficult situation for me because he does not have sponsorship,” she said. Martina said her son is at the beginning of his tennis career and that means more resources are still required. She said despite the challenges, it is inspiring as the boy is focused on achieving his dream.
Full names: Denzel Seetso
Date of Birth: April 24,2004
Place of Birth: Gaborone
Ranking Under 14 number one (Africa)