Kadoma tennis starlet Rutendo Tom is the next Cara Black

Since 2019, Rutendo has won 40 gold medals, 6 silver and 4 bronze pickings and is Zimbabwe Under-14 tennis champion at age 12.

AGE is no barrier to success in sport as 12-year-old Kadoma-based rising tennis star Rutendo Elma Tom has proved.

Since 2019, Rutendo has won 40 gold medals, 6 silver and 4 bronze pickings and is Zimbabwe Under-14 tennis champion at age 12.

The Munro Junior School student is also the current Zimbabwe All Primary Schools Champion in the Under-14 girls section winner and is hoping to maintain her dominance in 2024.

Of interest is the fact that Rutendo swept all that stood before her at the African Junior Championships (AJC) in Morocco back in October, 2023, where she beat opponents from Kenya, Algeria, Botswana and Morocco to become the African Under-12 champion.

Yet she nearly failed to travel to Casablanca, Morocco, although she was representing Zimbabwe. Her school Munro Junior, the A1 Academy she trains under, and the Kadoma community well wishers made contributions to raise the US$2 423 that was required to make the trip a reality.

"As a parent I chipped in with all that I had and received further assistance from well wishers and her school Munro Junior, to make sure Rutendo made the trip to Morocco  ," revealed her father Peter Tom .

Going back a bit, in 2019, Rutendo won her first gold medal at the New Winners Tournament  at Harare Sports club when competing in the under 10 category at the age of eight.

This was after  she took up a racket and started  hitting tennis balls at the age of five while still at pre-school.

Since then she has grown from strength to strength,  rising to become the top Under -14 female tennis player in the country.

Her coach Pride Tsiko has no doubts about where Rutendo is headed to.

"She is headed for greatness in tennis. Rutendo stands ready to take on any tennis player of her age worldwide as she has proved in Morocco," says Tsiko.

With her powerful right handed forehand and two handed backhand, Rutendo has emerged as the future Cara Black —  that is if the Zimbabwe sporting environment does not destroy her promising career.

Her extraordinary rhythm, balance and patience are further enhanced by her never-die spirit.

 Above all her father says she has a deep love for the sport.

"She loves tennis. She would spend every hour of the day in training if she could.  However, she has to balance schoolwork and tennis and she has managed to do that well,"said Tom .

Starting today, up to December 9, she is taking part in the Mutare National Doubles Tournaments where she is the player to beat in the Under-14 girls age group after running out of opponents in the Under-12 category.

"I want to defend my title and solidify my top seeding in the Under 14 girls tennis in Zimbabwe. Winning both tournaments will also enhance my chances of being selected in the Zimbabwe team for Namibia in January, 2024, " says Rutendo.

Tom revealed that coming from a small town like Kadoma , finances were one of the major problems Rutendo was facing despite her success.

"We are facing a lot of challenges such as tournament fees, food, accommodation, transport and training costs to fulfil competitions in and outside Zimbabwe. If only we could get assistance in that regard, then the sky is not even the limit for Rutendo ," pleaded Tom, father to Rutendo.

He says Rutendo's ambition is to turn professional sooner rather than later and take the world by storm.

After all, Jennifer Capriati was only 13 when she first appeared on the WTA Tour and caused a stir by beating players twice her age.

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