Botswana’s overseas tennis ace, Ekua Refilwe Youri continued her impressive rise up the ranks last weekend, triumphing at the Catalan Federation Tennis Open in Spain to claim the biggest tournament of her short career to date.
The Barcelona-based 16-year-old sensation showed nerves of steel to walk away with the title, beating seasoned professionals and winning five matches in total, dropping just one set in the process.
In an exclusive interview with Voice Sport this week, Youri admitted she was taken by surprise at just how well she played.
Victory over the top seed, Valeria Koussenoka, 25, in the quarter-finals proved a vital confidence boost for the big-serving teen.
“I never expected to win the tournament because the competition is always tough. But when I beat the girl who is a top seed, I became courageous and believed that I could win it, and I won it! I am really happy with my performance as grabbing a tournament was one of my ambitions for this year.”
Ranked 8th going into the event, Youri played a near faultless final to overcome her Spanish opponent 7-5, 6-2.
“It was a very tough match but she could not beat me as I had the confidence that I could win it. I did not allow her to play as I knew how dangerous she could be,” reflected the tennis teen, who vowed to keep raising the Botswana flag high.
“I am proud to have represented my country at the two International Tennis Federation (ITF) Under 18 tourneys which was held in South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively back in 2019,” said the youngster, whose dream is to compete on the sacred grass of Wimbledon one day.
Youri, who is staying with a host family in Spain, revealed she will be completing her General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) online at Wosley Hall [Oxford, England] as she is currently enrolled at Barcelona Tennis Academy.
“My studies are going well thus far. I am enjoying myself in Barcelona – it has great architecture and the people are so loving, as I already made few friends,” she said.