Tennis player, Olerato Monareng’s greatest ambition is to one day open an academy and develop future stars as coach.
Hailing from Temba in Hammanskraal, Monareng set her sights on playing tennis when she was still in high school.
In 2014, while studying at North West University, she decided to dedicate her life to pursue her passion and has not looked back ever since.
Although it has been a challenge for Monareng as she has had to financially support her own career, she has not been deterred as she admits many of her friends quit because of the financial burden.
Speaking with Tlamelo Kganakga, Monareng reveals what inspires her and what media can do to amplify the coverage of women’s sport.
Olerato, thank you for chatting to us! Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Olerato Violet Monareng. I am from a township called Temba in Hammanskraal.
When did you get involved in tennis?
I decided that I wanted to play tennis when l was in high school. The unfortunate thing was that we were far too few and our coach told us that she can no longer coach us. Fast forward a few years later to 2014, my love for tennis was reignited when l came to North West University. I will never regret this choice – awesome, I tell you!
What inspires you?
I am inspired by people who just keep winning in the midst of their difficulties. I am inspired by those who make something out of nothing. I am inspired by people who think outside the box and colour outside the lines. Life and every breath that we take in general is an inspiration.
What is your biggest setback and what did you learn from it?
My biggest hinderance was always trying to be perfect and wanting to become a professional player in a short space of time. That made me not enjoy tennis and l was going through a miserable phase. I got rid of my perfectionist ways and l started to live in the moment. By doing so l started to enjoy my games more even if l lost 6-0 l still had fun and l enjoyed the moment. I brought back the fun and the love l had for tennis.
What are some of your highlights of your career to date?
The highlight of my career was playing in the Botswana Open. Another highlight was witnessing my friends win the Botswana Open and another friend being selected to represent North West University in the USSA team. The best feeling ever!
How has this pandemic affected you and how did you deal with it?
This pandemic has affected me both negatively and positively. On the negative side, l witnessed my mom, my brother, my sister in-law, my pastor and his family, and my friend get Covid. I was scared and wondered if the phone call or text message l sent would be the last one. I wondered how I would survive if l heard that one of them passed away.
Oh, Lord! Some moments l felt like my depression was coming back. I felt like I was losing my mind. Hearing and seeing so many people in our church passing away was such a heavy feeling.
On the positive side, l got to spend lots of time with my family. We created more memories that will be remembered for generations to come. Attending church online was great. I sometimes attended in my pajamas! I took up new hobbies and l had lots of relaxation time along with more books to read.
What challenges have you faced?
The challenges that l have faced are my finances. When l started out l had to save up money to buy sports attire, shoes, and equipment. It was difficult at times. I wish that more disadvantaged universities could get sponsors. That would help us a lot, to take off the financial burden. Some of my fellow team mates left tennis due to financial difficulties.
What is your greatest ambition?
I would love to become a tennis coach one day and start my own tennis academy. That would be awesome. I would love to help a child go and attend a grand slam or the Olympics. I would love to be there shouting in the stadium and cheering them on. I would love to become a veterinarian and a business mogul as well. Achieve a fulfilled joyous life and just be the best version of me.
What is it that people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know that l am a pescatarian. Most people don’t know that l suffered from depression.
What do you do to relax?
My relaxation techniques include, playing tennis, beading, mosaic, and crafting, writing poems and journaling, listening to music and meditation.
Just being in a happy peaceful space is relaxing. We as people should learn to relax more.
Lastly, what do you think we as media can do to amplify women’s sports coverage?
As media personnel you can amplify sports coverage from grassroots. Promote sports and make it fashionable. Make the young and old fall in love with sports. Promote the jobs that are available in the sports industry because the young ones think that the greatest job to have is that corner office with air conditioner. It is time to make sports fashionable.
Photo 1 Caption: Tennis player, Olerato Monareng’s greatest ambition is to one day open an academy and develop future stars as coach. Photo: Supplied