Garanganga not giving up on dream

HARARE - Despite a minefield of financial hurdles that have curtailed his promising career, Takanyi Garanganga’s desire to break into the elite class of singles world tennis players has never diminished.

Rather, Takanyi sees his ordeal as an inspirational tale for aspiring athletes that despite the struggle, talent will always prevail.

The Mbare-born tennis ace is back home on a short break and has been sharing his life experiences with school kids whenever he has not been practicing at Harare Sports Club with Zimbabwe Davis Cup captain Martin Dzuwa.

An easy going, affable fellow, Garanganga always puts on a smile that belies the trying season he has had to endure due to limited funding.

This has ultimately seen him fail to play the full schedule of events, blocking his chance to better his rankings and depriving him of an opportunity to fight for a place in the Grand Slam main draw.

“It is frustrating I won’t lie,” he tells the Daily News.

“But it’s a choice. Working for your country is a choice. I don’t say because I play for Zimbabwe or because I’m from Africa I deserve financial support. No I’m not entitled to that.

“What I am concerned about is how I can help the country. How can I help my continent?

“That is what it means for me. So even if the frustration is there but it’s not going to overwhelm the goals I have set for myself.”

The United States-based star has been warmly received. 

“I am very happy that people appreciate me. I’m really humbled the way I have been received at schools and even in the streets. I am humbled because when I am out there in the world sometimes you feel alone.”

Takanyi is ranked 388 on the ATP World Tour singles standings.

“At the moment, because of my ranking and funding issues I have been playing more challengers of which are around $50 000, $75 000 and $100 000 for the whole tournament.

“The winner gets like $10 000 but preparation is not easy.

“But when you are playing ATP tour more consistently which are like $500 000 plus and the winner is getting in excess of $125 000 it pays well. That’s when you are making money.”

The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which is one of the world's most prestigious tournaments and is the biggest indoor tennis event in the world, offers one of the biggest paydays in tennis, with a $2 million purse.

“To get into the ATP you have to be among the top 80 in the world. There is a qualification for Grand Slam when you are ranked between 100 to 250.

“That’s why that fundraising was key for me because at that stage I was 288, I just needed to play more tournaments to better my ranking and then go through the qualifiers,” he says.

The 24-year-old made close $20 000 this season also playing challengers some ATP World Tour qualifying tournaments.

Without a sponsor, the prize money counts for very little as he needs “about $25 000 each month to play consistently.”

“This includes flights, coaches’ fees, trainers, staying three weeks in a hotel.

“My father is the one that has been paying the bills, but it’s a strain and unfortunately not enough.

“That’s the nature of the sport. If you want a consistent growth you need a lot of money. But we are not giving up. We are still marching forward with what we have.

“All things in place, I would want to play all ATP tour tournaments. That is what you play for as a professional. That is what you strive for, winning a Grand Slam.”

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