Today we traveled a little further north into Botswana from Gaborone to Francistown, which was a long, hot and boring road, except for the occasional donkey cart or cattle blocking the road. We’re staying at Woodlands just out of town and are enjoying the peace and quietness.
This morning we had to say goodbye to a very special accommodation; African Casa in Ruretse just outside Gaborone. Not only were the chalets very cosy and the grounds beautiful, the most memorable of our stay was the extremely friendly and helpful team!
After breakfast we had an interesting and even emotional chat with Martina, who runs the property, where you can also enjoy a specious campsite. She told us about her son Denzel, who started playing tennis at the age of 9 as part of a development program at the local school Baobab. Turning 10 he decided that he wanted to become a professional tennis play and a year later he started home schooling to allow more time for practice. When he was 12, he got his ITF (International Tennis Federation) scholarship and went to the Kenya East Africa Tennis Centre. After a year Martina realized he was developing better in Botswana under the guidance of a local coach, so they brought Denzel back home. He is now 14 years young and has been number 1 and 2 in Africa, came 2nd in the African Junior Championships and hopes to win the next one which is in September. His success shows that it is possible to reach the top if you work hard and believe in yourself.
Tennis rankings become global after the age of 14 and to continue accumulating points, Denzel and other kids like him need access to under 18 ITF tournaments at home, because it’s too expensive to travel and you need a competitive environment to develop.
One of the reasons for African Casa’s existence is to keep Denzel’s dream alive. Martina is hoping to generate enough money to build proper tennis courts on the property so they can host their own tournaments for ITF. There is definitely enough space, but only if more people come and experience the tranquillity and hospitality of this venue, they can get the funds to assist Denzel and many other young tennis players in achieving their dreams.
We are excited that Martina decided to join the Tourism Friendly family to benefit from great networking opportunities across Africa. Please get in touch with them if you are travelling to Gaborone and would like to experience the power of a smile!