Tennis wonder kid aces national competition

Siyabonga Jaca is the national under ten champion.

MOVE over Nadal, Federer and whoever is dubbed the next big thing in tennis. Siyabonga Jaca is coming for you, as fast as the tennis shots he dishes up in the court.

Jaca recently won the Dunlop Mini Series under 10 event. His happy, carefree demeanor and raw talent belie the harsh conditions of extreme poverty.

Home is Cato Crest, were poverty and unemployment is a challenge.

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However, none of these challenges follow Siyabonga onto the tennis court. The extremely talented youngster is confident and relaxed on the court and displays a maturity and mental toughness way beyond his years.

“When I am playing tennis I don’t worry about anything, I love the game so much,” said Jaca who is now the national U10 champion. Like 150 other youngsters, it is the love for tennis that makes them converge on Westridge Tennis Stadium every afternoon. At the helm of this Ethekwini Tennis Association Development program is an exceptional coach and an inspirational father figure, Emmanuel Ngema. Whether or not they are stars, the impact tennis has on these children’s lives is remarkable. It is a sanctuary and a happy place for these kids aged between 6 and 14 whose lives are really tough.

Siyabonga Jaca competes and wins many tournaments against very privileged children who have private coaches, fitness trainers and parents who can afford to take them all over South Africa to compete. Despite his old shoes and basic racquet”, he is winning against the best!” said coach Ngema.

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Headmaster of Cato Crest School, Mr Ntombela is delighted that his pupils are enjoying a sport previously unavailable to young boys and girls.

While Ngema sits with so much raw talent, the question that lingers on his mind is whether the youngsters really have a chance, because tennis requires a huge amount of discipline, good nutrition, a good education and big money to travel to participate in more advanced tournaments.

Deep down, Ngema believes that sponsorship and resources will come in time to nurture and grow Siyabonga and other future tennis stars.


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Rudy Nkgadima

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