Lawn Tennis the Forgotten Sports in Africa

June 15, 2013 10:47 am0 comments by:

Lawn-TennisCertain words, which we easily use in our daily vocabulary, were not in existence a few years or decades ago. They may not be your cup of tea as you find it annoying or they may be your buzz words. Whichever side you belong, the key issue is that you are aware of its meaning and have the option to use it.

One such word is multi tasking that originated in the computer industry which gradually slips through the main English language. In my view, it could easily have originated from Africa. It is norm that at a tender age, you have to learn how to organise your day and remember to do home work, chores and have plenty of time to enjoy games or play different sports.

Currently, there is a sport Lawn Tennis, which kids are losing interest in, either because they do not have the access to quality lawn tennis courts, tennis rackets, role models or it’s not the buzz sports. It appears the sport is not being played in the continent, but a quick research and you will be surprised that tournaments are regularly played at a local or national level. However, it is not resulting in producing more than three singles players that compete at Grand Slams.

Last year, in the Olympics held in London the continent Africa was represented heavily in most events. But, there was one event that was lacking behind and that is Lawn tennis. Tunisia was the only country to have a player each in the Men’s draw (Malek Jaziri) and Women’s draw (Ons Jabeur).

Both competitors went in as wild card entrants and lost in the 1st Round matches. Although, it is a disappointment to finally realise that this is a sport that Africans are lacking behind in the world stage. It provides opportunity for parents and kids to break boundaries and be part of the generations that puts Africa back in the Lawn tennis sporting calendar.

In the past, a few countries such as Nigeria had a top tennis player; Nduka Odizor, who had the highest ranking of 52 in the year 1984 and a competitor in the Grand Slams. More close to 2013 was the two Moroccans Hicham Arazi, who reached a ranking of 22 in November 2001 and Younes el Aynaoui with the highest ranking of 14 in 2003.

Recently, the Williams sisters Venus and Serene played an Exhibition match in Lagos, Nigeria. Whilst, the objective of the tour was to promote women’s right, I hope this marks a start of awareness and the powers to be providing the funds to organise tournaments that attract the best players in the world.

The current state as to whether the continent is being associated with Lawn Tennis depends on whether you are a positive thinking or pragmatic individual. As at 11th June 2013, apart from the two players from Tunisia that compete in mostly smaller tennis events, you have notably Kevin Anderson from South Africa ranked 23 in the World ATP Singles Ranking, Izak van der Merwe also from South Africa ranked 216, Lamine Ouaham from Algeria ranked 318 and Mohamed Safat from Egypt ranked 321 in the ATP Singles Ranking.

In the women’s side, it is less encouraging with the two South Africans Chanelle Scheepers ranked 61, Chanel Simmonds ranked in 158 in the top 200 and Ons Jabeur is ranked 209. On the plus side, the women are still young and will have the opportunity to inspire a younger generation to take up the sports.

Africa really needs to produce more players that compete in the Grand slams. This might add more excitement or variety to the tennis matches rather than the monotonous display on show.

Lets face it how many times will we like to watch Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic hit the ball back and forth until one of them hits the ball in the net.

I prefer the explosiveness of players like Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Gael Mofils. They play with flair, mix and match their power with subtle deft touches in the net.

This is a sport that really can strive alongside popular sports in terms of easily bringing awareness of any economic issues that needs to be discussed in Africa. Roland Garros should be the buzz word with the event just completed this month and Wimbledon about to start in a few weeks.

I am well aware that it is going to be extremely difficult because of the economic hardships, current attitude or competition faced from other popular sports such as football. However, it is not impossible to break through these strong barriers to assist in producing Lawn tennis players that compete regularly in the Singles Grand slams.

There are current examples such as Wayne, Bryon and Cara Black from Zimbabwe who are still keeping the flag flying albeit in the doubles scene and winning Grand slam tournaments.

Obioma Aguocha- is The Continent Observer sports analyst and a Self Publisher of “ The Guide to being the Best (Paperback) 2007 and Sporting Success Simplified 2012 (E-book).  You can follow him on Twitter at  @sportingadvice



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