Sinazo Solani has beat the odds of life and sport, with a good swing. More than a decade after her introduction to tennis, it has become no secret that Solani wants to make a career out of tennis and that she is on the cusp of doing so.
This past year, Solani continued representing Stellenbosch University’s (Maties) tennis team and travelled to Europe for the Fed Cup (premier international team competition in women’s tennis) as hitting partner to the team members.
In this exclusive interview with gsport Vacation Reporter, Zintle Tunce, the tennis player touched on her background and why the representation of women and women of colour matters in sport.
What has tennis afforded you that you feel as though you wouldn’t have encountered outside of it?
I feel that tennis has given me a second chance in life regarding my background and living circumstances back home. I would not be where I am today, playing tennis for Maties, going to good schools and obtaining good standards of education. Tennis has provided me with so many opportunities to change my life and I have met wonderful people along the journey.
Why is the development of young girls in tennis important?
I find it important that there are/should be developments focusing on girls… I mean boys tend to develop quicker than girls in general therefore it is important that there should be more focus shifted in developing girls.
Do we have enough competitions in the country?
Unfortunately, I cannot speak for the whole country but where I am, as a varsity student, I find that within the country we don’t have much competition because in university tennis there is only two tournaments a year and I find that not enough. As an individual I haven’t been competing much. I feel that it is getting better there as there are more tournaments taking place in South Africa.
What do you think the secret would be to bridge the gap between tennis in South Africa and internationally (players ranking higher, succeeding globally)?
I think exposure is the secret, getting as much competition experience as one can. I mean the key to better tennis is consistency – consistency in practice, gym and in all the requirements.
What doors would you like to see open?
I would like to turn professional or be able to provide kids who come from different backgrounds with the opportunity to be on the court and see if they make a career out of tennis.
Why does representation (of women, especially women of colour) matter in sports?
I think the representation of women in sport matters to break the stereotypes that sport is for men. Women can make a living out of sport and become professional sports people. As a black female player in the tennis environment I find that there is not enough of us in this environment and we need to educate our people about the sport. Tennis is an expensive sport and one needs to be financially stable to maintain it therefore finances can also be a big obstacle for those that come from an unfortunate background. I feel that my representation in the sport can also help to inspire many more of us and teach them that it is possible to thrive in such an environment.
It is no doubt that Sinazo Solani is well on her journey to success and that she will continue to serve South Africa and her communities, in tennis.
Photo 1 Caption: Stellenbosch University (Maties) tennis player, Sinazo Solani, pictured on court as she aims to progress in her tennis career. Photo: Zintle Tunce
Photo 2 Caption: Sinazo Solani pictured taking a breather from the tennis court at Stellenbosch University. Photo: Zintle Tunce
With editing by gsport