Some know her as a shy, soft-spoken mother to an eight-year old daughter, but in the eyes of her table tennis opponents, she is a robust player who has dominated the womenâ€™s section in the last two years. Tshepiso Rebatenne talks to Mmegi Sport Correspondent, KABELO BORANABI about her explosive rise to the top
Rebatenne has been the dominant force in the women’s table tennis in the last two years, rising rapidly to claim top spot. Like wine, the 28-year-old is mellowing with time.
She began her table tennis career when she was doing Form One at Letlole Mosielele Junior Secondary School in 2000. She describes the then qualifying process for the Botswana Integrated School Association (BISA) nationals as a tough assignment. “I qualified for the nationals when I was doing Form One.
It was a big achievement for me as I was the only table tennis player from my school to qualify,” she says. Rebatenne failed to qualify for the BISA nationals the following two seasons as they used a system of team events rather than individual.
But this did not demoralise her.
She managed to qualify for the BISA nationals when she was doing her senior secondary school education at Moshupa Senior Secondary School. She says she experienced a dry spell during her BISA era and she quit table tennis for a while.
It was in 2008 that she went back to the table after a three-year hiatus. She says the 2008 and 2009 Open tournaments helped her regain her passion and strength for the sport.
In 2010, she managed to break into the top 10 rankings for the first time within a short period. She says her mission now was to earn her stripes and cement her place among the best players in the country.
The following year, Rebatenne finished as the third ranked player and the aim was to get to the second spot. At the time, toppling top ranked Boitshwarelo Butale seemed a mission impossible.
Though her rivalry with second placed Matshidiso Osi has been going on for a while, she describes her as her easiest opponent. “It is easy to win against her.
It is just that our match is too emotional and that normally leads to errors caused by concentration lapses, while the toughest opponent I have faced is Salome Mahlatsi,” she says.
Rebatenne describes 2015 as her golden year as she retained her number one spot and won a bronze medal at the regional tournament in South Africa making her the first Motswana to get a medal at the tournament.
“As for being the top player this year, it was tough as I played international players like Zodwa Mphanga of South Africa in most of our tournaments.
Though she gives us a hard time, I am learning a lot from her.
“My worst memory was when I was dropped from the national team in 2013 due to poor performance and my best has to be when I won a bronze at the regional tournament.”
She says although she is in her late twenties, her dream is to play in the European leagues and to win a continental medal. She credits her sponsors JOOLA and CELIAT Constructions for her solid performances.
She spends her time out of the courts with her friends and family. “I am not an out going person.
I spend most of my time with my daughter whom I have introduced to the sport and I am turning her into a future champion.”