Inspired by the first edition of BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis, Sandton-based tennis coach, Ndumiso Ncube, has launched a programme to provide playing opportunities for young players in the nearby Alexandra township.
Ncube, the head coach at Next Generation Tennis based at the Sandton Sports Club, has partnered with Hope Mathopa, a coach from Alexandra, to take the sport to the youth of the Gauteng township.
Every Saturday, Ncube and Mathopa, aided by financial support from Tennis South Africa, transport dozens of children from Alexandra to the Sandton Sports Club, where they are provided with top-class equipment and facilities, as well as a meal.
Having started with 10 children less than three months ago, they now have 38 regular participants (aged between 7 and 15) in the weekly programme.
“Some of the kids have played tennis before, but most of them haven’t, so the idea is to give them basic ball skills.” – Sandton-based tennis coach, Ndumiso Ncube
“Some of the kids have played tennis before, but most of them haven’t, so the idea is to give them basic ball skills,” Ncube says.
“The goal is to get them to play in the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis tournament, which offers an entry level point for them, without being too nervous to take part. The kids are loving it, and we as coaches are enjoying it as well.”
The programme has drawn dozens of kids to the sport, with the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis series providing them with valuable motivation.
“We would probably have five players (if the centre was in Alexandra), but this has really motivated the kids, and it really helps having the equipment and facilities available to us,” says Mathopa.
“When we started most of them couldn’t hit a ball, but since we started this programme the children have shown a lot of improvement.” – Alexandra tennis coach, Hope Mathopa
The participants have already learned key skills and values, according to Mathopa, both on and off the court.
“When we started most of them couldn’t hit a ball, but since we started this programme the children have shown a lot of improvement,” he says.
“I hope they will continue to play tennis until university, and maybe some of them will even be able to compete internationally.”
A sports project with a purpose, BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis aims to provide opportunities for primary and high school girls and boys from hundreds of schools around the country.
Oranje Meisieskool will start the defence of their title when the 2021 BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis campaign begins in March, after winning at the inaugural series finals held in Soweto earlier this year.
Year two of the event will see the inclusion of high school players and a wheelchair category, alongside the existing primary schools’ competition, increasing opportunities for a new generation of players.
Photo 1 Caption: A player from Alexandra township in action during a tennis development programme at Sandton Sports Club in Johannesburg on Saturday, 14 November 2020. Photo: Frennie Shivambu