Bucks or bust for Hos­sam

African Independent - - SPORT -

EGYPT’S Youssef Hos­sam, the only ten­nis player in Africa and the Arab world on the world ju­nior rank­ings, is strug­gling to find a spon­sor to sup­port his promis­ing ca­reer.

The African ju­nior cham­pion from 2014 to 2016 is 334th on the ATP rank­ings, but a promis­ing 22nd in the world ju­nior rank­ings.

Yet the player and his coaches say all this tal­ent may fail to reach its po­ten­tial without a spon­sor to fi­nance a team to guide Hos­sam to­wards his dreams.

The 19-year-old is study­ing English at Misr Univer­sity for Science & Tech­nol­ogy in Cairo’s western sub­urbs. He spends most of his time on the univer­sity’s ten­nis court with his older brother Karim.

English “is the least re­stric­tive of the stud­ies in terms of at­ten­dance”, said a smil­ing Hos­sam, who chose ten­nis in a coun­try where foot­ball is the na­tional sport.

“I liked the idea of play­ing in a dis­ci­pline lit­tle prac­tised by oth­ers,” boasted the young­ster from Cairo who dreams of play­ing at Wim­ble­don.

Though Hos­sam, who of­ten trains in France, was ini­tially fol­low­ing in his older brother’s foot­steps, he quickly sur­passed him.

“Roger Fed­erer is my idol but my great­est role model is still my brother,” he said after a train­ing ses­sion with his brother un­der Cairo’s harsh Septem­ber sun.

Kerei Abakar, his coach at the Mouratoglou Ten­nis Academy in Nice, sees him as a po­ten­tial cham­pion with “an above-aver­age tech­nique, an arm of fire”.

Still, his coach stresses that “an ex­cep­tional po­ten­tial does not make a ten­nis player”, adding that “Youssef Hos­sam misses struc­ture, frame­work, and spon­sors to match his own level”.

His ca­sual ten­nis part­ner Mar­ius Barzu, a Ro­ma­nian ten­nis coach at Hos­sam’s univer­sity, ex­pressed re­served en­thu­si­asm.

“Three years ago I used to beat him 6-0, 6-0. To­day, it’s the op­po­site. His progress is im­pres­sive,” said the for­mer ath­lete.

“He could be among the top 100 play­ers in the world, but the chal­lenge for him now is to find a fi­nan­cial backer who would make him a star.”

He does have a Ja­panese brand back­ing him, Yonex, but it only pro­vides him with cloth­ing and equip­ment.

Hos­sam, who lives in an up­scale neigh­bour­hood in Cairo and drives a Jaguar, shows ma­tu­rity with his fo­cus and re­al­is­tic ap­proach to his goals, which he knows he is able to fol­low thanks to the fi­nan­cial sup­port of his fa­ther, who owns a large fur­nish­ing com­pany.

But the funds of an up­per in­come fam­ily in Cairo can­not com­pete in in­ter­na­tional ten­nis.

“I’m op­ti­mistic. Things are go­ing well for me,” he said. – afp

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.