Odds stacked against bril­liant Mokone

CityPress - - Sport - SIL­VER SIBIYA sil­ver.sibiya@city­press.co.za

De­spite her ex­cel­lent show­ing at a Pre­to­ria schools tour­na­ment last week, South African high schools Un­der-15 ten­nis player Amuke­lani Mokone may not re­alise her dream of rep­re­sent­ing the coun­try in the UK in June.

Her troubles started on Wed­nes­day, when she re­ceived a let­ter from Ten­nis SA (TSA) informing her that she had been se­lected for the na­tional team.

How­ever, the let­ter also stated that she needed to come up with a “non­re­fund­able” amount of R20 000 within seven days.

The team is set to take on some of the best teams in the UK in June, in­clud­ing the Sut­ton Ten­nis Acad­emy and the Mill­field Acad­emy in Som­er­set. The let­ter read: “The team will also at­tend two days at Wim­ble­don, where we have se­cured a show-court ticket. A va­ri­ety of cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional sites will also be vis­ited dur­ing this time.”

Mokone’s grand­mother, Tsakane Hlung­wane, who stays with her in White City, Soweto, told City Press that she did not know where she would get the money.

“I told her coach Oupa [Nthup­ing] that I will not be able to pay the de­posit of R20 000 be­cause I am un­em­ployed,” she said.

The full cost of the trip is “ap­prox­i­mately R39 990, ex­clud­ing air­port taxes, which are cal­cu­lated on the day the tick­ets are is­sued [cur­rently quoted at about R6 725]”, stated the let­ter.

The se­lected play­ers are ex­pected to con­firm if they will at­tend the tour by 12pm to­mor­row. They have to pay the non­re­fund­able de­posit of R20 000 be­fore Tues­day, and the bal­ance not later than May 8.

“At first I was sur­prised that I had been se­lected, but now I am sad be­cause I may not go be­cause I do not have the money. But my coach promised he will try his level best to get help,” said Mokone.

Nthup­ing said: “I am try­ing my best to raise funds for her, but I am not sure if we will be able to raise the money that is re­quired.”

He said Modise Mot­loba’s com­pany, Phuthong Trust, had promised to help.

“Modise has promised to help, as has Owen Nkomo of Inkunzi In­vest­ments, but we do not have any­thing for­mal from Nkomo,” said Nthup­ing.

Zen­zile Hlong­wane, who has been help­ing Mokone with train­ing shoes, money and other ne­ces­si­ties, said she felt obliged to do so as the player came from a dis­ad­van­taged back­ground.

TSA chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Richard Glover re­ferred City Press to the chair of TSA high schools, David Jaquire, who said that when par­ents do not have enough money, the child’s school or the mu­nic­i­pal­ity should help them.

The newly ap­pointed min­is­ter of sport and recre­ation, Thu­las Nx­esi, said he could not com­ment be­cause he still needed to meet with all sports fed­er­a­tions.

Mean­while, the KIA SA Davis Cup team are through to the next round of the Africa/Euro group.

Dou­bles part­ners Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse’s win gave the lo­cal team a 2-0 lead.

Their vic­tory fol­lowed Fri­day’s open­ing match 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 win by Lloyd Har­ris over Mike Ur­ban­ija, and Ni­co­laas Scholtz’s 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 win over Grega Žemlja.

The lo­cal team will now wait for the win­ner of this week­end’s clash be­tween Nor­way and Den­mark, who they face in the 3rd round in Septem­ber.

PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES

HOPE­FUL Amuke­lani Mokone hopes a Good Sa­mar­i­tan will help fund her trip to the UK

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