Junior tennis star, Kaitlyn Ramduth, lauds her family for rallying behind her sporting dream of representing South Africa at the most famous of major tournaments and grand slams around the world.
Her mother – who Ramduth regards as her rock – together with her brother and younger sister, have been by her side and supported her at every tournament that she has participated in locally.
Ramduth has always been active throughout her youth, she was involved in diverse sports including hockey, horse riding, swimming and athletics, all before turning five years old!
Her interest in tennis began when she witnessed a gruelling match between international superstars Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, and that inspired her to take up the sport, with her heart set on competing on the pro circuit.
At 14, Ramduth is a force to be reckoned with, and owes her early success to a dedication to a consistent training and fitness regime, coupled with a fighting spirit which has seen her take on and overcome older and stronger opponents, since she started out nine years ago.
Her dreams look to be shaping up well- she has already proudly represented her country in various countries around the globe, at the same time as keeping up an A-aggregate in her school studies.
Speaking with Celine Abrahams, Ramduth chats about playing in international youth competitions, balancing her education and tennis career, and reveals her highlights of her career so far.
Kaitlyn, please tell us about yourself and how your passion for tennis developed?
My name is Kaitlyn Ramduth, and I am 14 years old. I started playing tennis when I was 5 years and 9 months old.
At the time I had been playing lots of other sports like hockey, swimming, horse riding, and athletics, but it was at that early age that I watched a very hectic tennis match between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, and that gave me so much inspiration to take up this sport.
“A love and passion for tennis grew in me, and I was determined to work as hard as I could to make that dream a reality.” – Junior Tennis player, Kaitlyn Ramduth
I knew then that this was where my heart was and one day, I wanted to be competing like them, on the pro circuit. A love and passion for tennis grew in me, and I was determined to work as hard as I could to make that dream a reality, and till this day I still love this sport like I did the day that I started.
We are facing uncertain times with COVID-19. How has this pandemic impacted your sporting career?
The Coronavirus came along at a crucial time for me and disrupted many tour plans that were in place for me.
I was meant to leave to Madagascar to represent SA at the African Junior Championships from 18-31 March and that was a huge disappointment, but our safety and well-being comes first and I do appreciate the steps that were taken to ensure that.
Also the inter-provincial high schools tournament was set to take place in Pretoria between 9-13 April, I was the number 1 player for the KZN U15 team, and we were to challenge every other province to have the opportunity to be selected for the high schools team, that would tour England at Wimbledon in June.
Another major tournament that was postponed was the South African Junior Nationals.
These tournaments, and more, were a disappointment to most junior tennis players, but it’s the same for all, and one is not affected more than another so there’s nothing unfair about the situation.
How are you training and keeping yourself motivated?
Whilst on lockdown, I have been working out and training just as hard as I would have been if things were normal.
I have a routine of fitness that I do every afternoon for an hour and twenty minutes, where I work on my core and strength training.
I also use 45 minutes every day to hit against my garage wall, it’s an open space across three indoor garages so it’s quite a big space to hit good solid shots, and I’m happy to be keeping the shape of my strokes with continuous practice.
In the garden I have volley rallies with my brother across a hedge in the front garden, and I also practice my serves where I serve balls into the hedge, here also I get to hit full strength serves, and I just practice the shape of my serve often.
I also have online lessons with my tennis coaches, from the Curro Tennis academy, Jared Temlett and Stefan Fortman, where they motivate us with drills and videos, and we are given a specific task to complete for a week as homework, which also helps us a lot to work on areas of weaknesses and build on our strengths.
As a junior tennis player, you have won numerous tournaments and featured at the 2017 Nations Cup in Italy. What would you say drives you to keep on top of your game?
As a junior player I have achieved many milestones, and this had always inspired me to work harder and to achieve more. I love my time on the court, as a little kid I was always extremely competitive on and off the court. I was always determined and dedicated, I was always willing to work hard and to just try harder.
“I’ve always faced older opponents, girls bigger and much stronger than me, but I am determined to go out there and give it everything I have.” – Kaitlyn Ramduth speaks on competing against older opponents
If someone did something, I wanted to do it better. This competitive and self-motivated nature has helped me to persevere in the toughest of times. I’m always driven to do well, and to achieve greater things.
I’ve never been afraid of a challenge in fact I look forward to it. As a young junior I have always played above my age group e.g. at 7, I played U10 and at 13 I played U18 in KZN.
I’ve always faced older opponents, girls bigger and much stronger than me, but I am determined to go out there and give it everything I have. Win or lose, it’s all about doing the thing that I love the most.
What does a normal day in the life of Kaitlyn Ramduth’s look like?
A normal day for me would be to get up at 6am, have breakfast and off to school. A full school day ends at 14h15, then tennis academy begins at 15h00. A private lesson from 3-4pm then an hour and a half of squat training or some days and hour of fitness.
In the evening it’s dinner, then an hour dedicated to my homework or if I have to study then it’s an extra half hour. Then it’s bath time, and some time to relax with my family before I go to bed at 21h30.
What is it like having to balance your education and your tennis career?
Over the last three years I have had to travel to many different countries for many days at a time representing SA in various tournaments. I have missed a lot of school days in doing so. I have, however, always maintained an A-aggregate throughout my schooling career of which I am very proud of.
“I love my academics and it’s also something that I’ve excelled at, so I believe when you are passionate about things you will always find a way to succeed.” – Ramduth on balancing her education and tennis career
My academics is also something that I take pride in, so when I travel I take all of my work with me, there’s not always time to work though, sometimes I bring my books back home after two weeks, not having had any time to look at it, but I’ve always had good teachers that gave me the opportunity to take extra time to catch up with missed work.
I love my academics and it’s also something that I’ve excelled at, so I believe when you are passionate about things you will always find a way to succeed, so even though it’s very hard to keep a balance between the tennis and school, I do always find a way.
Do you have any other hobbies?
I do enjoy running, as a kid I always ran long distance races and that has helped me stay fit and with endurance through my tennis matches. I enjoy running on the road with my brother, and at school I’ve always competed in all the long-distance events and I do enjoy that.
I also gym whenever I am not traveling and it’s something that I enjoy doing as well.
Who are some of the top women tennis players that inspire you?
I’ve always been inspired by Maria Sharapova. Her story is something I loved reading, her determination, passion and drive was something that started my passion at an early age. Her never give up attitude was something I strived to follow for most of my junior years.
I also have admired Simona Halep, she’s a player with a lot of humility, she’s little but strong, and that reminds me of myself. She’s focused, but her attitude is amazing, she’s calm and never lets out a bad expression or a temper, she’s someone that sets such a good example to the younger generation also.
Tell us about your family and their support of your career.
My mother is my rock, she has supported my tennis from the day it all started. She would drive me to lessons and matches around the country with my brother and younger sister, and they are the best support team anyone could ever ask for.
They have been there through it all. Every achievement, every disappointment, they’ve supported me and never left my side.
They’ve lost sleep for traveling to my events, they’ve missed days of school, they’ve also missed important events to be there to support me. With their love, care and support I’ve been able to stay strong, motivated, and fully focused and that means the world to me.
What have been your highlights of your career so far?
I’m proud to have achieved many goals that I set for myself. Some that stand out for me:
- Making the KZN U13 team at the age of 8, and making that side for five consecutive years
- Representing my country for numerous events in Madagascar, Morocco, Italy, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Louisiana
- Representing SA at the Junior World Championships in Czech Republic in August 2019
- I am a part of the South African National squad for three consecutive years
- I am also a part of the Elite Athlete Development Program at the Prime High-Performance Institute also for three years
- I’ve received the KZN Female Tennis Player of the Year also for three consecutive years
- I was also selected to be a ball kid at the Match in Africa 6 between Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer in Cape Town in February 2020.
What is your greatest sporting dream?
My biggest dream is to play in the pro circuit, amongst and against the best players in the world. I want to play in all major tournaments and grand slams like the US Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australian Open.
“I aim to stay at the top of my ranking and play at the top of my game consistently to achieve my goals and dreams.” – Ramduth plans to compete at all major international tournaments
I want to continue to travel the world and represent my country and make TSA proud of the time and effort that they have invested in me.
I aim to stay at the top of my ranking and play at the top of my game consistently to achieve my goals and dreams.
What has been the best advice that you have received that has helped you fight some of your challenges?
At the age of six my first coach, John Yuill, always told me, perfect practice makes perfect, and that’s something I know I have to live by. It hasn’t been easy to put in a perfect practice, but it just means that if you can do that, then then it just helps to make your game perfect.
It means that your hardest work must be put into your practice to make the rest look easy. He taught me to take on a challenge without fear but remain humble and calm and to always give your opponent the benefit of the doubt.
These things have been taught and emphasised by my latter coaches as well, but they are things that I will always remember to live by.
Photo 1 Caption: Junior tennis star, Kaitlyn Ramduth, lauds her family for rallying behind her sporting career and guiding her as she continues to achieve various milestones. Photo: Supplied
Photo 2 Caption: Her mother, who Ramduth regards as her rock, together with her brother and younger sister, have been by her side and supported her at every tournament that she has participated in locally. Photo: Supplied
Photo 3 Caption: Throughout her youth, Ramduth has always been active as she played hockey, horse riding, swimming and athletics all before she turned five years old. Photo: Supplied
Photo 4 Caption: At 14, Ramduth has been a force to be reckoned with as she has punched above her age group since starting out nine-years ago. Photo: Supplied