Israeli Tennis Coach Visits RSA

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Posted on: 02/27/2014

This year was game, set and match to soccer, when South African government decided to rather fund the hosting of the African Nations Soccer Championship instead of the Soweto Open Tennis Tournament. But top Israeli tennis coach, Ronen Moralli, nevertheless visited South Africa recently.

Soweto – not really known for tennis… But rain or shine, these youngsters from the Arthur Ashe Tennis Academy hardly ever miss a tennis lesson. And lately they also had the opportunity to learn from an internationally reputed coach employed by one of the largest tennis development programmes for children in the world.

Ronen Moralli, Director of Coaches & Manager of National Teams of the Israel Tennis Centres:

“The first thing I put emphasis on – making the kids disciplined, because in my opinion being disciplined is like the first stage. And the second element is the physical element, foot work element. To get them going and to get them to be light on their feet.”

Coach Moralli’s visit to Soweto resulted from talks between Tennis South Africa and Israeli authorities.

Ambassador Arthur Lenk, Israel’s ambassador to South Africa:

“The Israel Tennis Centre in Israel was built by immigrants from South Africa. And so there is a natural connection of the people who built the Israel Tennis Centres all over Israel to this country.”

With more than 50 000 registered participants amongst whom some world class players, tennis can be considered a well-known sport in South Africa. The sport is working hard to develop new talent and shed the image of being reserved for the privileged and whites.

Bongani Zondi, President of Tennis South Africa:

“These kids are coming from poor families. So we’re trying to get people who can help. But the bigger picture also is to take the kids away from the streets. So we are not only developing a tennis player here, we are developing a human, a fully-fledged human being. And if we can get it right between ourselves and the Israel Tennis Federation, then we will be able to produce more kids that can play at the highest level.”

And it seems that Coach Moralli did make an impact in the approximately two weeks he spent in South Africa.

Amukelani Mokone, Tennis player of the Arthur Ashe Tennis Academy:

“It makes me like I’m also famous and it makes me feel like maybe when I go to tournaments, there will be things that I will remember about him.

Oupa Ntuping, Tennis Coach at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Academy:

“Number one that he really impressed me is discipline on and off court. And really building kids not only for tennis for future, for future for the rest of their lives.”
Lesego Mokgoetsi, Tennis player of the Arthur Ashe Tennis Academy:

“The best thing that Coach Moralli told me is to move my legs and do ‘happy feet’.”

Ambassador Arthur Lenk, Israel’s ambassador to South Africa:

“The next plan is for the coaches from Soweto to go off to Israel and to spend a couple of weeks at the Tennis Centre in Ramat Hasharon in Israel. And then we’re talking about exchanges of top players. That if we can get the top team players from Israel to practise, to train together with South African players – either here in Soweto or in Israel – I don’t know, maybe we can find the next Serena Williams or Shahar Pe’er!”

And being a former Davis Cup National coach, Coach Moralli, of course has advice handy.

Ronen Moralli, Director of Coaches & Manager of National Teams of the Israel Tennis Centres:

“The best advice is 100% effort – coaches and players. 100 % enjoyment in what they do. 100 % positivity in what they do. And 100 % focus on specific roles. And by doing those 4 things, you will develop a talent.”

Tennis may not be the most obvious connection between Israel and South Africa, but it does seem to offer a lot of potential for co-operation.

Marize de Klerk, JN1, Soweto

By Jewish News One