If you had to pick a tennis player whose playing style is most similar to yours, who would it be and why?
It has to be Nikolay Davydenko. He counter punches, stands on the baseline and hits wings equally well from both sides. But currently, it would have to be Novak Djokovic because his style of play is also similar.
What would you like to achieve in your tennis career in the next ten years?
It’s actually too late for me now, in terms of a tennis career. You have to start a professional career between 15 and 16 to get the experience you need, otherwise your career will be too short. Also, travel costs are too much because most tournaments at a professional level are overseas.
You have won the Club Champs four times. What goes through your head in the last set of your final games?
It depends on the match. If you break the opponent, you’re more likely to stay on top. I’ve only had one or two matches that were “score line tough”, in the sense that the score was very close. Otherwise I have fairly relaxed games, mostly because I take the lead early and give myself room for error.
Do you have any pre-game superstitions or rituals? If so, what do you do?
I don’t do anything pre-game, but during the game, when I have to serve, I always have to have all three balls, whereas most people prefer two. When the opponent feeds the ball to me, I don’t like it when it touches the line and if I win a toss I usually receive, because I want my return to surprise the opponent. I also wear black socks with black shoes and white socks with white shoes.
Who is your role model and why?
Roger Federer. He wins a lot so he’s easier to support and he also makes it look easy because he’s graceful on the court. He’s half-South African as well.
How do you bounce back from your losses and what was the worst loss you’ve ever suffered?
I just take the defeat on the chin. Once you’ve lost, you’ve lost. You have to see where your opponent played better than you and you also have to look at your own mistakes. My worst loss came in 2008 while playing nationals in Bloemfontein. We were one set all and I was 5-3 up in the third set. He cheated by changing the score to him being 5-4 up and a huge argument ensued. We had to start the set from scratch and he went on to win. He was also my seeded player, therefore if I had won I would have [gotten] his seed and I wouldn’t have to play a seeded player until the quarter finals.
When you are on the tennis court, it’s just you against the opponent, unlike rugby or football where you have teammates with you on the pitch who can help motivate you. How do you keep yourself motivated?
Well, the captain is allowed on the court on changeovers and can help and tell you about things that you can improve on, but I never really use him much. Also, the responsibility is heaped on the player so all the glory is yours and all the disappointments are yours too. It’s actually a double-edged sword.
How do you balance playing tennis for Tuks at a semi-professional level, studying and maintaining a social life?
You make time for the things that you have to do. It’s as simple as that. Studies only take up so much time and there is no reason to use it as an excuse.
Images: Tuks Tennis Students Facebook