During the last week of March, Liyema Mancoba represented the Eastern Cape at the TSA Primary and High School Interprovincial Tennis Tournament in Bloemfontein.
He has been selected to the u13 SA team at only 11 years old.
Mancoba was among the pupils from the Eastern Cape competing for national selection.
Although his individual performance earned him a spot on the national side, the Eastern Cape Primary school teams placed low in the rankings.
The Eastern Cape Aloes finished in 11th place and the Eastern Cape Elephants finished 13th out of 15 mixed provincial teams.
The Western Cape sides dominated the primary and high school rankings while the Free State team took first place for the seniors.
Mancoba, who has been playing since he was six years old, said that adapting to play conditions in the Free State was difficult.
He said, “The altitude was different.
“I needed to prepare my mind mentally for each match.
“Trying to understand the game plan of each of my opponents was also challenging.”
Mancoba’s coach, Oliver Ciganek said, “Liyema is fortunate to be left-handed, which gives him an advantage.
“He possesses an effective slice serve which opens up the court for him to take advantage on the next shot with his powerful topspin forehand.
“He displays much commitment to the sport and shows a good understanding of what it takes to compete at a high level. He is dedicated, resilient and humble.
“He performed extremely well throughout the IPT, improving with each match he played.”
Mancoba is proud to have made it to the national team and cites his family and Rafael Nadal as his inspirations.
He hopes to play for SA at Wimbledon one day.
He said, “My favourite part of the IPT was the independence of staying with the team at the hostel. We really bonded as we were coming from different parts of the Eastern Cape.”
This year, Mancoba and Ciganek will be developing his style of play and honing his capacity to finish off points at the net with confident crisp volleys.
Ciganek said, “I am extremely proud of Liyema, he plays with the tenacity and resilience of a champion.”