Double delight for tennis teen in Uganda

Kitso Ramono

Botswana’s rapidly rising tennis star, Ntungamili Raguin has pulled off a remarkable double in Uganda, winning two titles in the space of two incredible weeks.

Continuing his dominance in Kampala, the hard-hitting 15-year-old backed up his victory in the opening International Tennis Federation (ITF) J30 tournament with more success on Saturday (June 08, 2024).

For the second week in a row, Raguin found himself up against an Indian opponent in the final.

And, for the second week in a row, he proved far too good, this time blowing Ronin Gupta off the court 6-3, 6-2.

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In total, the French-based teenager went ten games unbeaten in the Ugandan capital, winning all ten matches without dropping a single set!

Going into the two tournaments, Raguin was ranked 708 in the world juniors.

After his first triumph, sealed with a 6-1, 6-1 trouncing of Shaurya Swarup, this rocketed up to 615; now it’s expected to soar below 500 as the country’s second top junior works his way towards the Holy Grail of tennis: the Grand Slams.

To qualify for the majors: (Australian, French US Opens and Wimbledon), one must be ranked 100 or higher.

Currently, Mark Nawa, 18, who won his own ITF J30 title on home soil back in April, is the closest to this mark, with a junior world ranking of 396.

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Reflecting on a whirlwind 14 days in East Africa, in which he also made it to the boys doubles finals, despite being up against some of the top young players in the game, Raguin revealed his biggest challenge was the weather.

“What made the competition more difficult was the weather. Kampala is located right on the Equator, thus the environment is rather humid. As a result, we sweat excessively and feel like the temperature is 15 degrees higher than it is. The temperature is roughly 27 – 28°C every day, but I sweat a lot more than in Botswana,” explained the youngster, who first started playing at the Francistown School of Tennis, before relocating to France with his family in 2018.

Now based at Country Club Tennis Academy in Aix-en-Provence, under the guidance of Coach Jeremie Cayla, Raguin told Voice Sport his twin triumphs were all the sweeter as he was one of the youngest players to take part.

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“I’m very happy with that, considering I’m just 15 years old and playing against players aged 16, 17, and up to 18. This demonstrates that I am genuinely putting in the effort,” declared Raguin, whose only previous victory at this level came in Abidjan, Ivory Coast last October.

Speaking on his charge’s achievements, Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) President, Oaitse Thipe said it comes as no surprise.

“We’re going to work with Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) for him to be enrolled in the Olympic Solidarity, so that he can be given financial assistance to give him a better chance of reaching the Youth Olympics. Our wish is to see him competing at the Junior Grand Slam, US and French Open at least by next year or 2026,” commented Thipe.

In other tennis news, at the on-going Billie Jean King Group III tournament in Nairobi, Kenya, Botswana ladies finished second in their pool.

After victories over Ghana and Uganda, the quartet of: Ekua Youri, Chelsea Chakanyuka, Cheludo Monnayoo and Kelebogile Monnayoo fell short to Nigeria, losing 2-1 to miss out on top spot to the Nigerians. The team will now take on Burundi and Zimbabwe in stage two of the competition.

Meanwhile, local official, Gaone Poane continued to fly the flag, and was in action as a line judge at the French Open ladies Final between Iga Swiatek and Jasmine Paoline on Saturday (June 08, 2024).

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