Coach Judy Murray heaps praise on SA tennis prodigy Siphosothando Montsi

Tennis prodigy Siphosothando Montsi. Picture credits: Facebook
Tennis prodigy Siphosothando Montsi. Picture credits: Facebook

Tennis prodigy Siphosothando Montsi lost his first-round match in the Australian Open juniors but he ended up on top of the world.

That’s because after Saturday’s game the Pretoria teenager was approached by Judy Murray‚ the coach who set her son Andy on his path to No 1 in the world‚ and congratulated on his performance.

Murray tweeted a photo with Montsi‚ 17‚ and said: “Today I watched the most naturally gifted young player‚ Siphosothando Montsi from South Africa.”

Montsi told The Times: “It was really nice to meet her. She told me that she loves the way I played‚ especially my drop shots‚ which I use quite often. She also mentioned that I have a beautiful serve.

“She told me that I have a bright future ahead of me and that I should keep up the hard work and that everything in my game will come together when I get physically stronger and bigger because I already have the skills that are needed‚" he said.

“She also told me that she loves my name!”

Montsi is one of three South African juniors in Melbourne with coach Allan Karam. The others are Philip Henning from Bloemfontein and Joshua Howard-Tripp from Boksburg. Tennis SA media manager Bruce Davidson said there were hopes that they and Montsi’s younger brother‚ Kholo‚ 14‚ would form the nucleus of a new “golden generation” in South African tennis.

He said the Montsi brothers had blossomed as players since their parents‚ Xolani and Phumla‚ moved them from East London to Pretoria in 2012.

Phumla said she was “so proud” of Murray’s comments. While her husband and sons moved to Pretoria she stayed in East London for three years until she was offered a job in the capital at the Department of Human Settlements.

But she recently joined her husband’s cleaning business. “If I hadn’t resigned Sipho wouldn’t be in Australia‚ because I used my pension savings to send him there‚” she said.

Money looms large as the biggest threat to future stardom for her sons‚ who have been offered places at the IMG Academy in Florida.

“We need R1.5-million to send them there‚ and time is running out‚” she said.

Montsi‚ who is 108th in the world junior rankings‚ said: “We were supposed to have left South Africa last August but unfortunately we are still struggling to raise funds. It will be very sad for my brother and I if we don’t move there.”

Richard Glover‚ CEO of Tennis SA‚ realised since taking the job last October that the young players and their parents needed support. “Financial sustainability is our biggest challenge but we are working on a number of projects to strengthen the finances of the Federation‚” he said.

The IMG Academy is a world-class institution but is not the only option for future stars such as the Montsi brothers. To provide young players with international exposure‚ Tennis SA plans to bring more international tennis to the country‚ to re-establish junior national squads and establish operating bases for young players in Europe and the US.

TMG Digital/The Times

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