SA’s young tennis players on a winning streak
Cape Town - The future is bright for South Africa’s rising tennis stars.
Within eight years, the Anthony Harris Tennis Academy in Sea Point has had representatives at Grand Slam tournaments.
Lloyd Harris has played in all four Grand Slams, while Khololwam Montsi took part in the Australian Open Juniors and French Open Juniors last year.
Their performances have motivated their teammates, including younger players such as Hlumani Kekana, Leo Matthysen, Mikaeel Woodman and Kelly Arends.
Leo, Mikaeel and Kelly have represented the country on numerous occasions.
Hlumani, 11, won three consecutive tournaments in one month, and was a runner-up in the Cape Town Tennis Super 8 last year.
“Last season was tough because of the Covid-19 pandemic. A big highlight for myself was moving from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town to start my journey at Anthony Harris Tennis Academy. My goals for the season are to play outside South Africa and to compete at junior Grand Slams,” Hlumani said.
Leo, 14, who is ranked No 1 in his age group in Africa, said: “I feel that I am growing as a tennis player. At times it was really frustrating when the results didn't go my way, but my coaches always told me that it wasn't about results at this stage. Things are falling nicely into place where results are concerned. I need to keep working hard to ensure that I keep growing and hope to test myself against international competition.”
Mikaeel, 17, who is a two-time Under-18 International Tennis Federation (ITF) finalist said: “The key is to stay positive, always try to look at the good and move forward from there,” said Mikaeel, who is a fan of 17-time Grand Slam champion and World No 1 Novak Djokovic.
“He is organised, focused at all times and works extremely hard.”
Kelly, 17, recently won back-to-back ITF singles titles and captured the maiden ITF doubles title.
“My tennis is developing every day. The academy is my other home, where I work with a fantastic team of coaches. Their support is invaluable. While the academy is very professionally structured, it has also become part of my family. In order to keep developing and progressing, it is essential to have the right support structure around you and have an open relationship with your team. Working hard, being disciplined, and being prepared to do that every day will help produce the results,” Kelly said.
The Academy, started in 2013 by Anthony and Dionne Harris, offers high performance tennis and fitness programmes for junior and professional players from the age of eight. To date it has 32 players, some of whom are financially assisted by the Match Development Foundation.
Anthony said: “One champion creates hope, belief and desire in millions. Add to this quality, structured, systematic programmes, and a healthy environment, and we will have empowered future leaders and champions.”