Story by Mthokozisi Dube
The move to take tennis to high-density suburbs has unearthed gems including thirteen-year-old Zimbabwe national tennis team player Akeelah Khanye who has set her sights on featuring in at least one grand slam tournament.
Having been to Mozambique, Togo, Uganda and of late Kenya with the Zimbabwe national tennis team, thirteen-year-old Khanye says her next target is to feature in the Wimbledon tournament.
The St Columbus High School student who lost in the quarterfinals in Kenya is determined to conquer the world despite the recent setback.
“I used to watch tennis on television. I got inspired by Serena Williams. She could play so well. So when my father advised me to take up tennis. I just had to know that I have been to a major tournament, my target is now to play in the Wimbledon challenge,” she said.
Alongside other Zimbabwe national tennis team players like Ethan Sibanda, Courage Ndlovu and Mehluli Sibanda, Akilla is a product of the Thomasik Tennis Academy formed in 2011 to take the sport code to the high-density suburbs of Bulawayo.
The academy’s coach Michael Mlambo is satisfied with the talent at their disposal.
“We have been running this academy since 2011 and we are happy to note that we have produced tennis stars from this court. The academy nurtures talent from five-year-olds,” Mlambo noted.
Academies have become key in the development and nurturing of junior talent across all sports codes.