Lente Taljard picks up two titles at Grand Prix event

Eastern Cape tennis ace confirms her potential

Eastern Cape tennis sensation Lente Taljard won two titles in the Grand Prix tournament in East London at the weekend
DOUBLE SUCCESS: Eastern Cape tennis sensation Lente Taljard won two titles in the Grand Prix tournament in East London at the weekend
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Fresh from her win from last weekend’s Grand Prix tennis tournament at Selborne Park, Lente Taljard is focused on using the momentum to improve her tennis this year.

Taljard won the women’s singles by beating Annika Kleinhans 6-2 6-2 and then partnered Caitlyn Zietsman to win the doubles, defeating Jade Benting and Leila Nel 6-2 6-4.

The Somerset East resident was thrilled with her performance. 

“It was very nice as the East London tournaments are always enjoyable,” Taljard said. “The officials are friendly and always willing to help.

“In the first matches, I didn’t play my best tennis but my levels went up as the tournament proceeded. 

“The girl I played in the final, I know her very well; we have played each other many times. So I stuck to the basics and kept my focus and didn’t lose concentration.” 

The 17-year-old is in her second year playing in the women’s single after she graduated from the age-groups.

Much of her first year was wiped out by the Covid-19 pandemic.

That slowed her adjusting phase as she grappled with the toughness of senior tennis. 

“This is my second year, but last year we didn’t play a lot of tournaments because of Covid-19.” Taljard said.

“In your first year you try to do well; you don’t expect to win too many tournaments, you just do your best and try to see how good you can be. 

“Then in your second year you can go for it. I have to train hard as moving to the women’s singles is tough. I’m really grateful to be healthy and be able to still play.” 

Along with her cool charisma, there is the impeccable mentality of an elite athlete in Taljard’s locker.

She notes that tennis is a sport that requires mental strength and sees room for improvement in her game. 

“Tennis is about change. You go through dips of form and then you start playing better and then bad again; it’s very up and down. I’d say it’s more important to be mentally strong than physically strong.

“At least 50% of your game is mental and you have to be so focused. When you go through rough patches, you should not show. You have to keep your cool and be confident. I’m definitely playing well now after I struggled last year. 

“There’s always room for improvement, you can never be satisfied. I think for me personally the next thing I need to improve is my serve.”

The teen sensation now has her eyes on the Growthpoint TSA Junior Nationals which will be in Bloemfontein next month. This is her last year of being eligible for the juniors.

“I want to be as good as I can come to the nationals. They are in a month’s time in Bloemfontein and I want to do really well to get my ranking high,” she said.  

Tennis Eastern Cape, in collaboration with Tennis Buffalo City, will be hosting the BNP Paribas Rising Star Primary and High Schools tournament in April and the Top Guns Club championships and the National Seniors tournament in Buffalo City in May.

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