Johannesburg, South Africa, 05 May 2021 – It has been a long road for Mike Nkosie, but decades of hard work are paying off, and he hopes to take another big step forward with the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis programme as he continues to make a significant contribution as one of the most influential development coaches in Gauteng.

Yeoville tennis players in action
Yeoville tennis players in action during a tennis activation at Yeoville Tennis Club in Johannesburg ahead of the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis tournament.
Picture credits: Cotton Cream

After picking up the sport as a teenager in the early 1970s, Nkosie has since become a renowned mentor.

Recognised as the Yeoville inner city head coach with over 38 years of coaching experience, he lends his services to various schools in and around Johannesburg, including Africa International School, Yeoville Community School, Berea Primary, Charlotte Maxeke Secondary and others.

“Tennis participation in schools is a good concept that eliminates boredom and frustration on the kids,” says 67-year-old Nkosie.

“It’s one of the best tools for success in sports and recreation for kids in and after school.

“There’s a huge interest in tennis in schools here but there’s a shortage of tennis courts as we only have two courts.”

After entering two players into the inaugural BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis series, who reached the semifinals, Nkosie has entered 18 teams in this year’s youth tennis campaign.

With his programme now based at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto, where more facilities are available, Nkosie says they are training every Saturday in preparation for the nationwide school tournament.

“The Rising star tennis tournament is very important for the kids as it offers the best platform for them to pit themselves against some of their peers from the best schools in the country,” said Nkosie.

A sports project with a purpose, BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis aims to provide opportunities for primary and high school boys and girls from hundreds of schools around the country.

Though his schools programme was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, he says they have managed to emerge from the lockdown by resuming training.

“COVID-19 has hampered our preparations since some kids couldn’t just turn up for practice after lockdown,” he says.

“We normally have lots of kids and it becomes difficult to attend to all of them with just two courts, but we have been working with smaller groups now due to COVID-19. We are doing everything possible and will not let COVID-19 win.”

Having produced many elite players over the years – including the likes of Lillian Langa, Kevin Dlamini, Barbara Nkomazama and Lilitha Ndungane – and assisting some in receiving scholarships to study and compete in the United States, Nkosie is eager to continue building on his fine legacy as a coach.

“My inspiration is the desire to help Africans develop their lives and also guide them to a better life of being respected in their communities through tennis and being great leaders of tomorrow through sport.”

The Johannesburg leg of the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Star Tennis tournament will take place this weekend, from 7-9 May 2021 at Marks Park Tennis Club and Ellis Park Tennis Centre.