March 12, 2023
I dedicated this article to PM Abiy Ahmed and Prof. Berhanu Nega, Minister of Education of Ethiopia, and their colleagues for showing the world that the TPLF’s educational policy killed Ethiopia’s education system.
Author’s Note: “Baby steps are the royal road to skill.” Some said it takes 10,000 hours (up to ten years) to master a sport; others said it takes six to ten years. America’s tennis legends: Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Serena Williams and Venus Williams said they started practicing tennis when they started walking. The two Williams sisters’ dad Richard Williams a.k.a. King Richard wrote his daughters’ tennis training program and purchased them used tennis gear years before they were conceived. Watching the “King Richard” film about him and his two tennis champion daughters Serena and Venus shows us what it takes to be great in tennis.
It’s a good start!
In February 2023, the Ethiopia Tennis Federation (ETF) hosted the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) J30 tournament which is the lowest grade. J500 is the highest; JGS is the Junior Grand Slam.
In the singles junior boys’ tournament, an Austria’s player named Thilo Behrmann took the first place; his ITF’s ranking was 695 as of February 27, 2023.
The Ethiopian tennis national team singles players were eliminated in the second round. Dawit Sheleme Musa’s ranking was 2006 as of February 27, 2023. And Dawit Fisha Uma’s ranking was 2542 as of February 20, 2023.
Their ranks show Ethiopia’s tennis status is light years behind Austria’s and prove the ETF’s vision for tennis and its training program need a paradigm shift like the one Prof. Berhanu Nega, Minister of Education of Ethiopia, is introducing to the failed Ethiopia’s education systems.
Note: For example, the ITF’s World Tennis Tour Junior Rankings number ranged from “1” to “2927” as of March 06, 2023. Only one player’s ranking number was “1” and hundreds of players’ ranking number was “2927”. For the sake of simplicity, I interpreted the rankings as follows: The ranking “1” is for a player who won most of his/her matches that “1” of “2927”. The ranking “2927” is for a player who lost all of his/her matches that “2927” of “2927”.
What will help to make Ethiopia’s tennis great?
Fan Television said colleges and universities in Ethiopia plan to start teaching tennis.
To grow tennis, teaching it to beginner adults is a great money making idea because they spend the most money on tennis. But teaching beginning tennis at a college won’t produce pro tennis players for Ethiopia because college students are too old to be pros, and a sport science professors’ tennis knowledge is theoretical. One would be better off learning tennis from a coach, and one must know that finding a great coach is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Instead of investing to teach tennis at colleges and building tennis courts on campuses, Ethiopia would be better off promoting the sport and building hard courts and practice concrete walls in low income neighborhoods, and let the children figure out how to strike a tennis ball. They will certainly help to make Ethiopia’s tennis great.
Furthermore, the ETF may consider taking a lesson from King Richard’s approach to tennis. He got into it to make money, prepared a training program for his babies before they were conceived and planned to make them mentally ready for their competition, in turn, life. After he had them, he loved, cared for and respected them but demanded hard work. He raised them to be loving, respectful, hardworking, faithful members of their church and winners of what life throws at them. They turned out to be exactly as he planned.
Another inspiring tennis story could be the two Ymer brothers, the twenty-four-year-old Mikael Ymer and the twenty-six-year-old Elias Ymer, who’re Swedish and Ethiopian by descent. They had a career high ATP singles ranking No. 49 and No. 105 respectively.
A winning calculus formula for tennis by Ethiopians for Ethiopians
TDKET (Tariku and Desta Kids´ Education through Tennis Development Ethiopia) uses tennis for children’s well-being, academic success and tennis skills development. Its mission and vision statement reads: “The educational medium used by TDKET is tennis. Special emphasis is placed on school development, tutoring and additional lessons and the successful participation in tournaments. The children are fully cared for by the project and the parents are encouraged to take responsibility for the development of their child´s performance.”
In their CGTV News YouTube video titled “Ethiopia’s Tennis Hopefuls”, the children showed their impressive English speaking skills.
‘Houston we got a problem’
Coach Yohannes Worku – an Ethiopian immigrant to Germany and a German citizen – is Ethiopia’s የቁርጥቀን ልጅ! He went to Ethiopia from Germany during the war against the terrorist TPLF when German citizens were advised to leave Ethiopia by the German embassy in Addis.
He knows the Western lectures on human rights to Africa are to pay lip service to democracy, to equality and to justice. He understands some policy makers of the Western countries won’t hesitate to wage wars against Ethiopia or to balkanize it, if PM Abiy Ahmed continuous to assert his country’s sovereignty. He defends Ethiopia from the Western nation’s main stream media malicious propaganda.
He leads the ETF, Awash 90.7 FM said in its YouTube video titled ጀርመንን ያንቀጠቀ ኢትዮጵ ያዊው አሰልጣኝ #ዮሃንስ ወርቁ from 13:28 to 14:35 timestamp.
He said he plans to find tennis talents among Ethiopian children and train them to compete globally for Ethiopia and to be world famous players within the next three to five years.
Good for him; more power to him.
In his interview with Fana Television from timestamp 2:52 to 7:30 he said he trained the Germany’s tennis national team with Boris Becker; Yohannes added he recruits tennis talent for professional tennis in Germany.
But he forgot to mention those he recruited and helped to be professional tennis players. The Fana Television reporter failed to remind him to tell its audience a few of those he made pros. But the reporter showed a video of Yohannes giving a tennis lesson, including to his fourteen and fifteen-year-old daughters in Germany.
He said his daughters are No. 1 and No.2 tennis players of Germany [in their age group]; the reporter took his words. My jaw dropped.
Fana Television said Yohannes comes to Ethiopia every year and gives photograph and video based tennis lessons.
He said he goes to universities across Ethiopia to give tennis lessons and coaching licenses to teachers, doctors and professors who teach sport science.
I wonder what Prof. Berhanu Nega, Minister of Education of Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian government think about this situation. Would he consider reevaluating the sport science doctors and the professors’ knowledge at colleges and universities? I encourage the Ethiopian government to consider assessing the ETF’s operations and its leadership team capability to produce highly skilled competitive players who play to win.
Remember, most of those who teach in Ethiopian schools, colleges and universities failed their test in the subject matter they teach.
The proof is in the pudding
Tennis legend Boris Becker and a former world No. 1 men’s tennis player said thousands of tennis players try to win a major; they try to break into the top 50 or in the top 100; ninety nine percent of these players don’t make it.
According to Forbes, professional tennis players outside of the top 50 ATP or WTA ranked struggle to make a living from the sport.
In 2017, Becker “was appointed as head of men’s tennis coach for the German federation.” Starting from 2013, he coached Novak Djokovic for three years. From 1997 to 1999, he was Davis Cup coach for Germany. On December 15, 2022, “he was released from UK prison after serving just eight months of his sentence.”
The same thing Becker told the world the athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie told Ethiopians. I heard him saying a significant number of Ethiopians who dreamed of being successful runners don’t make it for several reasons, including injuries while training on Mount Entoto, Addis Ababa.
Is the USA tennis growth identical with the TPLF’s era education expansion?
YES! The Reporter said “Ethiopians are still reeling from the shocking national school leaving examination results announced by the Educational Assessment and Examinations Services (EAES) last week. Only 3.3 percent of the 896,520 Grade 12 students who sat for the national school leaving examination for the 2021-22 academic year managed to score the required 50 percent and above to pursue their university education.”
The USTA said “According to the Physical Activity Council’s (PAC) participation report produced by Sports Marketing Surveys, which monitors more than 120 different sports and activities, more than 22.6 million [American] people took to the courts in 2021.”
Fact: Although participation in tennis has skyrocketed, America has lost its dominance in the sport. The world No. 5 ATP singles player Taylor Harry Fritz is the No. 1 American singles player as of February 27, 2023. The American singles player Jessica Pegula is WTP’s No. 3 singles player as of March 06, 2023.
The USA’s tennis growth of the last two decades closely resembles Ethiopia’s education growth. I won’t be exaggerating if I assert the majority of the USTA licensed coaches in America are inferior quality. That is one of the reasons that are killing American tennis. During the terrorist TPLF’s twenty-seven years of tyranny, teachers and professors of inferior quality were allowed to teach in schools, colleges and universities that mushroomed across the county. Teachers encouraged and helped their students to cheat on exams. They turned out to be tribal, corrupt and easy to drive like a herd with misinformation posts on Facebook pages.
My losing argument: No to game-based learning tennis
The ITF promotes a game-based approach coaching which “means the tennis coach sets up realistic tennis game situations so that beginner players can learn by playing the game.” In other words, the purpose of game-based tennis is to increase a chance for players to stay in the sport by entertaining students whose parents could afford to pay for tennis lessons and camps.
The business aspect of game-based tennis makes sense. But I’m against it for not working for my preferred way of learning.
The real question is who am I to be critic of the USTA and the ITF
I love tennis. Once upon a time, I was a serious table tennis student and took lessons from a former Chinese Olympics table tennis coach. I’m an unrated self-thought tennis guru who thoroughly understands the fundamental aspects of the game and uses efficient techniques to practice the sport.
When I learn a sport, learning techniques initially speed up the process. I promote form-based tennis, learning the body parts and the swings mechanics of the sport before starting to hit. I advocate learning the eastern forehand grip because it’s an efficient grip. I won’t suggest learning the western forehand grip because it’s an inefficient grip. I encourage kids to learn both the one handed and the two handed backhand so that they can make an informed choice.
I’m a pickleball super fan who plans to be a pickler. I agree with those who argue that pickleball will dominate tennis soon because serving underhand makes the sport easier to learn. Besides, pickleball is much more fun to play for me.
The writer LJDemissie can be reached at LJDemissie@yahoo.com
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