Botswana’s brightest young tennis talents will be looking to come of age this week when they head to Zimbabwe for an U/18 International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament.
The BTA has assembled a six-team squad for the Bulawayo-based competition, which will feature some of the best youth players on the planet.
The teenage titans on a mission to make the nation proud are Mark Nawa, 15, Denzel Seetso, 16, Leago Saleshando, 18, Batshomi Marobela, 18, Seabo Saleshando, 14, and Naledi Chabuya Raguin, 15.
Speaking to Voice Sport this week, BTA President, Oaitse Thipe stressed the knockout event, which runs from 29 May to12 June, is especially important as it represents the first competitive action in over a year.
“Players get international tennis rankings in competitive tournaments like these. We expect them to achieve their fullest potential even though it is going to be a difficult task because they have not been active for a long time,” he said, adding players from as far as Belgium and the United Kingdom will be taking part in the comp.
Thipe further revealed the players’ parents have had to cover all the expenses for the trip as the cash-strapped Tennis Association is in no position to help.
“Tennis is not like other sporting codes; we are under financial strains at the moment and the parents had to help out,” admitted Thipe, who revealed France-based Chabuya-Raguin – the only female member of the team – will be jetting into Bulawayo on Friday where she will meet up with her male teammates, who will be travelling by road.
Chabuya-Raguin boasts a rich tennis pedigree as her father, Dominique Raguin, ran the Francistown School of Tennis before relocating to France in 2018.
For his part, the boy many hope will take local tennis to the next level, Seetso, admitted it will not be easy in Zim.
“The local sports ban was seen as necessary and I was fortunate enough to get a bit of training but I am still lacking on the match fitness which I believe I will get a Zimbabwe. I am aiming for the top,” concluded Seetso, who through a combination of injury and Covid-19 restrictions, has not played competitively for almost 18 months.