South Africa’s 17-year-old tennis star, Khololwam Montsi, has won his first match at Roland Garros Junior Championships.
South African has found new hope in teen tennis sensation Khololwam Montsi. The 17-year-old has won his debut match at Roland Garros Junior Championships in Paris. Montsi is the second Black South African in history to represent the country at the French Open Juniors. He is reportedly South Africa’s hopes to end a 20-year dry spell in the exclusive sport.
The teenager has won over the hearts of many sports fans in the country after he qualified for the second round of the prestigious juniors contest, serving 6-2, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Axel Garcian. The match was an intense play that had Montsi looking like he was about to lose, but he rose up from the loss of two games to claim victory in straight sets.
Montsi’s competitive nature is reportedly propelled by his older brother who is also a tennis player.
“I would see my brother playing tennis and when he started going to other countries to play I figured if I wanted to be close to him I would have to play tennis as well. It generally started because I wanted to go to Asia with my brother and so I quit karate and joined him,” he recounted in an interview with The Star newspaper.
Montsi was born in King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape. His athletic prowess seems to be an inheritance from his mother, Pumla Montsi, who was a renowned sprinter. Both his parents have supported Montsi in nurturing his talents even quitting high government jobs. Montsi needed to raise R1.5 million in 2017 for the youngster to compete in a tournament in Florida. Xolani Montsi lamented to IOL that unfortunately they could not afford to fly with him to France to witness his debut.
Tennis is an expensive sport in South Africa. Black boys often have their sights set on soccer which is on of the few sports that is well-funded. Minister of Sports Arts and Culture,Nathi Mthethwa is often critiqued for lack of transformation in other sports than aren’t soccer. The remnants of Apartheid have negatively influenced sport funding and inclusion. Tennis, rugby, swimming and cricket are often colour coded sports barring access to Black people. Resistance to transformation on sports boards such as Cricket South Africa has slowed down Black athletes’ progress in these sports categories.
Despite these difficulties, Monti carries a cheery and hardworking spirit as reported by Tennis365:
“Since I have been here it has just been perfect. I haven’t had one bad day, everyone pushes each other, we all want to see each other succeed. That’s the best part of this gym. I am super blessed to be part of this place. I think after that Australian trip I came back and told myself I am going to be at the gym and it is something I want to do and not something like ‘oh I got gym’.”
Montsi is currently ranked number 12 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) world junior rankings earlier this year, and was part of the South African ATP Cup squad. Peter-Jon Nomdo was was the first black junior tennis player at Roland Garros in 2000. Nomdo is now part of Montsi’s team of coaches.
For update follow @MontsiBrothers on Twitter.