Mohlakeng teen makes name for himself in the wheelchair tennis world
20 February 2018
Young Mpho Mhlongo from Mohlakeng says wheelchair tennis changed his life. South African wheelchair tennis junior champion Mpho Mhlongo, 16, from Mohlakeng said wheelchair tennis changed his life.
Mpho competed in his fi rst-ever international tournament in France last month. He represented his country at the recent Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters in Tarbes, together with world number four junior Alwande Skhosana and said the experience was life-changing.
“Wheelchair tennis gave me so much hope and life,” Mpho said.
“It is through the sport that I got an opportunity to travel by air for the very first time and go overseas. I couldn’t believe that I was really competing abroad. I learnt so much in France; I gave my best in every match I played and was excited to win a match against world number 5 Riauri Logan of Britain.
This experience taught me that despite a disability, one can still be anything you want to be in life.”
Mpho, who was awarded a wild card, impressed in his debut at the prestigious junior event. He lost his opener against Conner Stroud 3–6 0–6, staged a stunning fight against Jucelio da Silva Torguato (Brazil) but fell to the Brazilian in a captivating match 1–6 6–3 4–6. He enjoyed his first match win after Riauri Logan retired at 6–2 3–6 1–0 due to a burst tube.
Born with a congenital defect, Mpho’s association with wheelchair tennis started at the age of 13 and a year later he was ranked number 23 in the world. Mpho proved to be the country’s rising star when he broke into the top twelve in the world after only three years in the sport. “I have always liked individual sports and tennis is challenging, but I knew it was for me,” Mpho added.
Mpho’s advice to people living with disabilities is, “Hold your head up high. Doors and opportunities to see the world are out there, just be positive, work hard and never let your disability get in the way of your dreams. That’s what I did and playing wheelchair tennis changed my life.”
Mpho said the sport needs more financial assistance to enable many other talented wheelchair tennis players to travel, be more competitive, gain international exposure and succeed in the sport, “There are lots of talented players out there and with more financial support, the sport can continue to change more lives like it did with mine.”
Source: Randfontein Herald