The up and coming local tennis star Denzel Seetso continues to rise up the international rankings after impressing at the on-going International Tennis Federation (ITF) European development tour. Seetso, who is currently seeded as number one in Africa won himself a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour Europe under the ITF Grand Slam Development fund with three other top four players from Africa.
The tour has seen Seetso playing in Italy and France where he reached the last 16. According to Botswana Tennis Federation Vice President Oaitse Thipe, Seetso is expected to be in the Netherlands this week before moving to Belgium and Germany next week. While in France, Thipe says Seetso impressed international coaches in France and played at the same stadium where the French Open and Roland Garros are held.
“Denzel won three matches in a row before losing to a Japanese player 6-4, 6-1. The Japanese player happens to be one of the best in the category,” Thipe said. Thipe further explained that the local player is giving a good account of himself, having already beaten some of the top prospects in Europe, Asia and Europe.
“Some of the players competing in this tournament are going to proceed to Junior Wimbledon where only the top 100 seeded players are entered.”Thipe said the European tour is likely to culminate in a tournament in the Czech Republic where Seetso is expected to play before returning home. Should Seetso maintain his status as number one in Africa, he will be expected to compete at a top tier tournament, the Orange Bowl and Eddie Hear in Florida, USA. Thipe further explained that Seetso has been accompanied by two coaches from Morocco and Madagascar. The other three players on tour are from Egypt, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The sky is the limit for the young tennis player Denzel Seetso (14) who is now officially ranked first in Africa after winning individual Under 14 International Tennis Federation (ITF)/Confederations of African Tennis (CAT) tournaments this past Thursday.This is after almost 20 years of medal drought for the locals. This was confirmed by Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) Vice-President (VP) Oaitse Thipe in an interview with BG Sport this week.
Thipe said Seetso’s track record has been rather impressive as the young lad has been triumphing a lot recently, “Denzel won a total of five tournaments across the continent to topple his competitors to the pole position. He also won doubles title in Algeria, Benoni and singles title in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Madagascar and all these tournaments were sanctioned by ITF which makes the boy a Moghul,” he said.
The last time Botswana had an impressive junior was 20 years back, where Gaebolae Seleke was ranked No.1 in the respective continent (Africa) hence Seetso is following along the lines to becoming a gemstone in the tennis circles.BTA VP further said the boy’s (Seetso) achievement is a blessing in disguise for the country, “We have endured so many years without anyone occupying the top seed in the country. This has been a worrying factor but now the future looks bright for our tennis,” said the BTA VP.
Meanwhile, the local Under 14 team which boasted remarkable players such as Mark Nawa, Arnold Bleskit and the man of the moment Denzel Seetso did not come back empty handed at the ITF/CAT under 14 and 16 Zonal Qualifiers which were held in Namibia this past week, “The boys have qualified for the Tennis Africa Championships which are slated for August 2019 in Tunisia. Furthermore, the preparations start as early as now so that we play a good tournament,” he explained.
On the other hand, Thipe said they are going to try hard to engage corporate companies to get involved, “We are going to work very hard to prepare the boys for the upcoming games though it’s still early stages. We will try and source out sponsorship and mind you, there will be a preparatory individual tournament in March and we ought to prepare for it as well,” said Thipe. Efforts to reach the boy’s mentor Phenyo Matong proved unfruitful as his phone did not go through. They were said to be travelling back to Botswana from a tournament in Namibia.
Over 200 Botswana integrated Sports Association (BISA) and Botswana Primary School Sports Association (BOPSSA) athletes are currently in Maseru, Lesotho where they are expected to compete in the COSSASA games.
The ongoing multisport games started yesterday (Thursday). The official opening of the games was expected earlier today (Friday). The four-day showpiece is expected to conclude this Saturday and the rest of the team is expected back home on Monday.
Botswana is represented by six sport codes including Rugby, Netball, Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis and football. The team is made up of the under 13, 15 and 17 girls and boys.Speaking to BG Sport shortly before departure at the team’s send -off ceremony on Monday in Gaborone, BISA spokesperson Letsweletse Jonas said they would be going all out to defend their championship title in Lesotho.
Botswana secured nine medals in Zimbabwe last year and Jonas said they aim to increase the tally to at least 10. “It will not be a walk in the park, we expect to lock horns with powerhouses from South Africa, Malawi and Swaziland,” he said.
Jonas explained that South Africa and Swaziland have been absent from the tournament for a while and they expect them to come out stronger than ever.
Nevertheless he assured that his team is ready and they will not concede to any pressure imposed on them.
Given the four years that Botswana has been participating at the COSASSA games, Jonas said they have managed to maintain a good record as far as bringing home good results is concerned.
However his wish is to see other sporting codes included in the annual tournament. “We had wished that all our 12 codes could participate but the current six codes are the ones affiliated with COSASSA,” he said.
Jonas said that they have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that all the athletes return home safely, adding that they have enough official personnel to keep close eye on the team.
According to Jonas, the team included 16 drivers, medical personel and coaches while BOPSSA president Busani Segweni is serving as head of delegation.