Cara Black conducts coaching clinic

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Harare Sports Club’s tennis courts were a flurry of activity on Monday as Zimbabwe’s female tennis star Cara Black dropped by to conduct a training clinic to over 40 young players in the Under-10 and Under-14 age groups.

The 32-year-old Black who is ranked fourth best in the world in women’s doubles tennis spent the better part of the day on the courts.

She patiently instructed children on basic tennis skills and conducted hands-on training based on their individual strengths and weaknesses together with respected coach Richmore Murape.

During intervals in her coaching, Black who is in the country on her off-season break expressed hope for the dedicated youngsters and praised their efforts.

“I always love the opportunity of coming out to play with the kids, having some fun with them, giving them a few tips and sharing my experiences with them.

“When working with the Under- 10 age group we use different balls which have 75% pressure so that it makes it easy for them to hit a few rallies as they fly in the air more slowly.

“The normal balls fly in the air so quickly which makes it difficult for the kids to react fast enough as their coordination would not have fully developed. This is why it’s important to introduce the sport to the youngsters at such age groups like the Under-10s,” said Black.

The concept of using different balls for the Under-10 was introduced by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) under the play-and-stay project.

The project recommends that players aged 10 and under should not train or play in competitions with the regular yellow ball on a full court, but instead train and compete with a red, orange or green ball on an appropriately sized court.

The young players were quite excited to have the chance of a lifetime, hitting balls with one of the most successful tennis players the country has produced.

“I feel so excited to meet my favourite tennis star, Cara Black,” said seven-year-old Kudzai Mandizha from Dominican Convent Primary School. I really learnt a lot of techniques I’ve never tried before by playing with her.”

Black also gave credit to Tennis Zimbabwe (TZ) for keeping the game alive in the country, even during the harsh economic times but said better things were to come as the ITF was now giving more support local tennis.

“Obviously tennis development was difficult during the harsh economic environment but now things have got much better. The ITF have started supporting TZ again with funds and equipment and that can only signal better things for local tennis.

“What’s only left is for us to give more exposure to our young players by making sure that they travel and play in more tournaments against tougher opponents on a regular basis,” said Black.