Tears of a proud fa­ther

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SPORT - Brighton Zhawi

TEN­NIS pro­tégé Mark Chi­gaazira is mak­ing his fa­ther Am­brose cry a lot these days.

A jour­ney the fa­ther and son pair started with noth­ing but hope is show­ing signs of so much light at the end of the tun­nel.

Re­al­is­ing that his al­most empty pock­ets stood be­tween his son and his ten­nis dream, Am­brose took it upon him­self to coach young Mark.

The Chi­gaazi­ras could not af­ford the ser­vices of a pro­fes­sional coach and many laughed at their ses­sions, af­ter all Am­brose knew very lit­tle about ten­nis.

There were many highs and lows but one thing the pair did not do was give up, they kept push­ing on with the be­lief that brighter days were around the cor­ner.

Then in April this year, Mark made his Davis Cup de­but when Zim­babwe played Poland. He left his fa­ther cry­ing. The 20-year-old ten­nis player then landed in the United States at Jack­sonville State Univer­sity in Alabama, where he will be play­ing in the Na­tional Col­le­giate Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion Di­vi­sion One and study­ing for a Busi­ness de­gree.

That too made his fa­ther cry. In fact, it still does. A dream is com­ing true. “I was not at the air­port to see him off, but the mo­ment I saw the pic­tures of Mark say­ing his good­byes to the fam­ily mem­bers present, I shed some tears.

“All the emo­tions, all the mem­o­ries of how hard this jour­ney has been was too much for me.

“How­ever, I had to act as if my eyes were both­er­ing me to hide the fact that I was cry­ing,” re­vealed Am­brose.

Mark has been mak­ing steady progress in his ca­reer, reach­ing fourth in the men’s rank­ings in South Africa last year and quar­ter-fi­nals of the ITF Fu­tures in Harare re­cently.

“I don’t know where I would be go­ing if it didn’t go this way,” he told The Sun­day Mail Sport last week from Alabama.

“At the begin­ning of the year I was just a dreamer, but now here I am fit­ting into life well. I feel more con­fi­dent that ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble.

“I’ve man­aged to change a sit­u­a­tion that didn’t look pos­si­ble...ev­ery­thing will hap­pen in God’s time.”

But be­fore he wor­ries about ten­nis court mat­ters, Chi­gaazira is try­ing his best to get used to his new life.

“It’s a huge cam­pus in a small town so peo­ple here are a wel­com­ing,” said the ten­nis star.

“I’m ad­just­ing well to this en­vi­ron­ment not for­get­ting the weather...it’s hot now so it’s giv­ing me a chance to ad­just.

“My aca­demic pro­gram is made up in a way that does not clash with my ten­nis, but I’ve only done a few days in Amer­ica so I’m hop­ing, as soon as I get the hang of things, to add in more hours to my ten­nis and gym pro­gram.

“This is what I have al­ways been dream­ing of. I know what it means to be here and plan to make the most of this op­por­tu­nity.”

SPE­CIAL SON...Zim­babwe Davis Cup player Mark Chi­gaazira’s re­cent move to Jack­sonville State Univer­sity in USA has left his fa­ther Am­brose with tears of joy

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