Rising tennis star Kelly Arends is continuing with her family’s legacy of playing the sport, she also hopes to become a well-known international player in the not-so-distant future.
The 16-year-old is a daughter to two tennis coaches – Karl and Juanita Arends.
The protégé has been riding her own wave, making a name for herself on the court, as she marks a decade in the sport.
A trailblazer in her own right, she has represented South Africa in multiple international team events, won TSA Masters twice and bagged her first ITF doubles title this year.
Arends has been using the time under Covid-19 lockdown to focus more on her mental state and sharpen her game as she eagerly awaits to make her return to the court.
During this global, collective trying time, she is grateful to be home schooled, affording her the opportunity to strike a balance between her education and tennis career.
Her greatest ambition is to walk in the footsteps of her idol Serena Williams and go on a WTA tour, win professional tournaments and etch her name on world rankings.
Speaking with Celine Abrahams, Arends chats about her journey to Grand Slam Glory.
Welcome to gsport! Please tell us more about yourself and where your passion for sport comes from.
My name is Kelly Arends, I’m 16 years old and I live in Cape Town, South Africa.
I started playing tennis at around 6 years old. My whole family plays tennis, my parents both being coaches and my brother playing tennis, so I grew up in that environment and wanted to start playing tennis just like them. My dad coached me until the age of 12 when I joined the Anthony Harris Tennis Academy.
At what age did you start taking tennis more seriously?
I played tennis for fun until I reached the age of 9 when I started taking my tennis more seriously and wanted to begin playing tournaments.
What was your first competition and what was that like for you?
It was a local tennis tournament when I was 9. I was very excited and couldn’t wait to play my first match, I ended up in third place.
How have you been using the past few months under Covid-19 lockdown to work on your game?
I focused a lot on staying fit, strengthening my body and working more on the mental side of tennis.
How are you able to strike a balance between school and your career?
“I can do my schoolwork in my own time so it’s easy to balance my training and school.” – Rising tennis star, Kelly Arends, speaks on the benefits of being home schooled.
I started home schooling in Grade 8, and it’s been helping me so much over the years. I can do my schoolwork in my own time so it’s easy to balance my training and school.
How has your family supported you through your journey so far?
My family has been very supportive since day one. My parents drive me to training, tournaments and airports. They work with my sponsors to help organize my flights, pay for my expenses and help me find sponsors. My family is always there for me, they always cheer for me when they watch my matches and they always believe in me.
Which female sports stars inspire you and why?
My role model has always been Serena Williams, she’s a huge tennis icon! She inspires me because she works hard and she’s very passionate. She’s confident and I love watching her play.
What have been the biggest challenges of your playing career to date?
Finances are possibly the biggest hurdle for me as a tennis player. I am only able to travel and train due to people willing to sponsor me. Match Foundation has been able to sponsor me. Obviously, the more sponsors I have, the more I can travel to tournaments and improve my international ranking. The goal is to become a professional tennis player and in order to achieve this, I have to continue to improve my ranking.
What are some of your biggest highlights?
A few highlights of my career:
- I’ve represented my country multiple occasions in international team events
- I’ve won TSA Masters twice, a tournament where only the Top 8 in the country are invited
- I’ve been ranked number 1 in the country in my age group multiple occasions over the years
- I won my first ITF doubles title this year. An ITF is an international tournament where people all across the world play.
What are you hoping to achieve in your sporting career?
I want to go far as I can in my tennis career. I want to go on the WTA pro tour, win pro tournaments and get a high ranking.
Photo 1 Caption: Rising tennis star, Kelly Arends is continuing with her family’s tradition of playing the sport as she hopes to become a well-known international player one day. Photo: Supplied
Photo 2 Caption: The 16-year-old is a daughter to two tennis coaches has been riding her own wave, making a name for herself on the court as she marks a decade in the sport. Photo: Supplied
Photo 3 Caption: To date, she has represented South Africa in multiple international team events, won TSA masters twice and bagged her first ITF doubles title this year. Photo: Supplied