Since its foundation at the start of March 2013, the Francistown School of Tennis has dared to dream big.
Despite not receiving any support from either the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) or the Government, the tennis academy continues to impress.
One of the school’s ultimate, long-term ambitions is to develop international standard players capable of competing at the highest level.
The recent hiring of 49-year-old Frenchman Yann Grizaud, a highly respected and admired coach, could be the missing piece in the complicated puzzle of crafting a professional player.
A former French Davis Cup captain, Grizaud boasts more than 30 years of experience coaching juniors at an elite level.
Having worked for seven years in the French National Programme, where he oversaw the development of some of the country’s top young players – including Richard Gasquet, who would go on to be ranked as high as seventh in the world – Grizaud is well placed to asses talent.
Encouragingly, since he took up the post of head coach at the school two months ago, Grizaud admits to being cautiously impressed at the skill-level and desire he has observed from some of the club’s promising youngsters.
Whilst he was quick to mention that he does not want to talk about potential until the players start achieving results, when questioned about the talent-levels at the school, he said, “Yes, I’ve identified some that are very promising at world level. I am looking at developing them in the next 3-5 years,” adding that it takes 8-10 years of quality work to develop an international standard player.
The capture of Grizaud’s services is a huge coup for the tennis academy’s founder and director, Dominique Raguin, who was delighted to officially unveil the new coach at a press conference on Monday.
Raguin explained that as well as nurturing the young players, Grizaud will also be developing local coaches. “He will be working with our two coaches on a daily basis.
The experience they will gain from working with him will be invaluable,” he said.
Although it is early days, it seems the Francistown school of tennis’ ambitious dreams could one day become a distinct reality – watch this space!