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Tennis prodigies off to Bloemfontein



MASERU – Two tennis players, Kamohelo Khethisa, 17, and Lerato Mathibela, 20, will head to Bloemfontein, South Africa, tomorrow to compete in a juniors’ championship this weekend. Both players are under the Cosmos Tennis Academy.

The academy is led and founded by former tennis player, Rantsane Monare. It was formed last year and has 60 players on its books. The main purpose of the academy is to revive tennis in Lesotho while also developing players.

Monare said this is the first time the players will be competing for international ranking points. They will compete in the singles and doubles competitions.

“There is a big tournament coming in Bloemfontein and we are leaving on Friday. It is the first time we will have players competing to get ranking points globally,” he said.

Monare said he feels the talented Khethisa and Mathibela are best positioned to benefit from playing outside the country against players from different countries. For example, they will be competing against players from Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and hosts South Africa.

Due to a lack of funding, the academy picks tournaments based on what it can afford with the help from parents.

In October, Cosmos Academy is set to host an Independence Fest tournament in the build-up to the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games in Malawi at the end of the year. Monare said he took pointers from Lesotho’s hosting of the same Under-20 games last December.

“We assessed the AUSC performance to see where they struggled and the big thing was lack of exposure,” Monare said.

“Stage fright gets the better of them, even the player you know is good. When they meet other people, they panic and we said, let’s give them a lot of exposure to play against whites, Nigeria, Ivory Coast so that when they get to the tournaments, they no longer have stage fright,” Monare said.

Monare said the Cosmos Tennis Academy has enjoyed loyal support from parents and the tennis association. While money is the main challenge, Monare said the academy aims to give the players a conducive environment where they can be better people on and off the court.

“We have the courts to use them as much as we can and we have support from parents to meet us halfway,” Monare said.

“If the parents are paying for accommodation, then the academy will sort transport out and see the players are well taken care of.”

Monare continued: “I always say to the players, there is life before tennis and every player’s social wellbeing comes first. It’s about life-skills and getting to know where the kid comes from – how we can help them, who they stay with. We tap into different backgrounds.”

Tlalane Phahla


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