Six Counties identified by KLTA for tennis development

By eric odanga
Apr 29, 2014
  • Farah Fernandez who captains the USIU-A team was a top junior player.

The Kenya Lawn Tennis Association has taken a bold step to initiate a County development program which is aimed at tapping and nurturing talent from the grassroots and empowering players away from the Nairobi base.

One of the targets of what could revolutionize the game is a new structure of the oldest competition, Kenya Open which is one of the longest running events in Africa.

Kenya Open has been played in Nairobi but with the new initiative, this will change with County competitions which will pave way for the main competition for the juniors and seniors.

The aim of the bold initiative is to geographically spread tennis and give the Kenya Open a truly face of Kenya by making sure that all players have a chance to compete.

Six Counties have been identified this year for the three-year phase in which KLTA intends to cover at least 23 Counties. The County competitions will start with tournaments in Thika and Mombasa from May 9-11. Kisumu and Eldoret will host their competitions on May 16-18 paving way for Kakamega and Machakos on May 23-25.

The Counties were identified based on the current state of tennis infrastructure, large pool of potential players for development and a historical role of producing tennis players especially within the schools system.

Top five junior players

At the completion of the County competitions, the top five junior players will be transported and accommodated in Nairobi to compete in the junior category of the Real Insurance Kenya Open.

Meanwhile, KLTA has reevaluated their development approach after getting feedback from the performance of Kenyan players in the various international events among them the Africa Junior Tennis championship where all players did not reach the ranks.

All the players who were part of the AJC are training daily while on holidays and on weekends during the school terms in order to maintain consistency and ensure there is high level coaching all through.

Besides focusing on players, KLTA will ensure the technical capacity in Counties by training coaches who will be used as resource personnel for County-based players. KLTA will be conducting a three-day Level 1 coaches workshop before each County competition.

The coaching workshop will target teachers of tennis at schools as the schools prepare for the racquet games in the Term 2A games. This is expected to equip the local coaches with the necessary skills and knowledge to start and continue coaching programmes at school and club level.

The third day of the workshop will include coaching players from clubs and schools to impart skills and knowledge of the latest trends in tennis techniques and tactics. The workshops will be conducted by KLTA and International Tennis Federation-certified coaches who will use customised programmes to meet the specific needs at each level.

At the end of the three-year program, the KLTA hopes to continue the development programs.

Provided tennis balls 

Paurvi Rawal, the chair of KLTA has offered to provide tennis balls and racquets to start off these programs. In the long run, it is hoped the County governments through their sports docket will provide the necessary support.

The Real Insurance Kenya Open will be played at Nairobi Club from May 31-June 2 for the Junior category and June 15-21 for the Seniors. Some of the countries expected to be at Nairobi Club are Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia and locally-based players from UK, USA and European countries.

There are six categories for men and women. These are singles, doubles, veterans, handicap, mixed doubles and wheelchair. Last year, the event had 300 players.

In the last two years, the event has incorporated teh wheelchair category which saw Kenya host the World Cup qualifiers which enabled the women’s team qualify. The Kenya team will play in the championship in Netherlands on May 26-June 2.