Recently, I have started following the game of tennis closely. I have really enjoyed the rise of Andy Murray to the No. 1 position in the ATP tennis rankings. But my favorite player is Kei Nishikori. This is mainly because he comes from Japan, which is more or less my home country outside Africa, having stayed there for close to five years.
In the Australian Open 2017 tournament, which will run from 16 January to 29 January, 2017 in Melbourne, there are 22 Japanese participants apart from Nishikori. On the other hand, there are very few participants from Africa. South Africa, Tunisia, and Egypt are the only African countries represented.
South Africa is represented by Raven Klaasen in Men’s Doubles. Tunisia has Malek Jaziri in Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles, and Ons Jabeur in Women’s Qualifying Singles. Egypt’s representative is Mohamed Safwat in Men’s Qualifying Singles. Only four participants from the whole continent!
Of course, some people will say we do not have the necessary resources in Africa. But I think countries such as South Africa must be doing better. In other sports such football, we have done much better over the years, especially in terms of individual talent.
This is the continent that has produced the likes of George Weah, Abedi Pele, Kalusha Bwalya, Samuel Etoo, Didier Drogba, Roger Milla, Rigobert Song, Jay-jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and many others. If some proper investments can be made in tennis, Africa is capable of producing talented players who will be fiercely competing in the grand slams.
The money in tennis also seems to be good. For instance, the first round stage prize money for Men’s Singles and Women’s Doubles is AUD$50,000 while winners in both competitions will get AUS$2.7m. This is a lot of money; it is a sport worth investing in.
The likes of Patrick Motsepe (Mamelodi Sundowns), Kaizer Motuang (Kaizer Chiefs), Irvin Khoza (Orlando Pirates) and Moïse Katumbi Chapwe (TP Mazembe) are doing a commendable work in football. We need some people and/or organizations to invest in tennis as well.