My Mother Taught Me Tennis


Number four ranked South African tennis player and winner of Futures 1 Men’s Doubles at the recently concluded Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship, Ruan Roelofse told DAMILARE OKUNOLA why he comes to compete in Nigeria.

You won the doubles final but lost in the singles of the 2012 Governor’s Cup, were you disappointed?

I won’t say I was really disappointed because I made a lot of errors in the match. That cost me the first set for sure, but I regained confidence in the second set. Unfortunately, it was too late for me to do anything meaningful in the second set. So, I lost the game 6-0, 6-4. I’d have to get back to practice to work on my weaknesses. The final against Enrique Lopez-Perez was mentally tough.

What’s next after the Governor’s Cup?

I’ll be going to Turkey for a $10,000 worth tournament, then return to South Africa to rest before stepping out again.

As a player, who has featured in the Governor’s Cup in Nigeria thrice, how would you rate the organisation?

It’s been great and I think the  tourney is improving. I also find out that Nigerians are  good in term of hospitality. I’d say it has been good for me.

Does that mean that everything here can meet up with the standard in other countries you’ve been to?

Nigeria can rank with other countries in terms of facilities, and the organisers of the Governor’s Cup are improving every year.

Which other circuits have you played?

Sighs…I can’t really remember because I’ve been to at least 33 countries across the world and I’ve played in many ITF Junior tournaments. As at now, I have played in Futures and challenge circuits in America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Why do you prefer tennis?

Well, when I was about seven years old, my mum used to be a tennis coach and she introduced me to the game. From there, I learnt the basics of the sport and here I am today, 15years after, waxing stronger. I was interested as soon as she started teaching me so I picked it up from there.

How has it been playing tennis for 15 years now?

It has been a great adventure for me because it has taken me to many parts of the world. I have seen places, different cultures and it’s fulfilling doing what I enjoy.

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What are the major challenges you have faced since playing tennis?

For me, being alone on the road and having to look after myself has been the greatest challenge since I started playing. This is what I’ve been trying to overcome.

Was that the reason you brought your girlfriend (Chanel Simmonds) with you?

Laughs… no, not at all. She also entered for this tournament and thank goodness, we came together. She even left Lagos before me because she had other things to attend to.

How would you rate Nigerian players?

I’ve not really had time to watch them, but I watched Lawal Shehu with his doubles partner, Maku Sunday and they really impressed me.

What do you always remember Nigeria for each time you return to South Africa?

That’s a tough question, you know. (Laughs heartily)…I think the harsh weather is the major thing I’ll remember Nigeria for. The weather is so tough on the skin and it makes it difficult for me to play very well. But overall, I enjoy coming here and I hope to be here next year.

Your ambition?

I would like to be an ATP professional and wish to stay in the top 50 in the world for a very long time.

Your role model?

Roger Federer is my role model because he has everything the game requires and he makes playing tennis look quite easy.

What about your family?

I have an elder brother who’s a lawyer and my parents are both teachers in South Africa.

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