Rwanda’s teen tennis player Junior Hakizimana has been offered a scholarship to train at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) High-Performance Training Centre, starting next month.
Hakizimana, 13, is one of the eight youngsters comprising the January 2020 cohort at the Kenya-based centre.
Fresh from a compelling performance where he struck silver at this year’s East African U14 Tennis Championships in Kenya last week, Hakizimana, the local tennis federation says, has been an exceptional talent since he was 10.
“We have been following him for the last three years – since he was 10-year-old. He is exceptional,” said Théoneste Karenzi, president of the Rwanda Tennis Federation.
“We are all, at Rwanda tennis, happy and proud of him. Junior (Hakizimana) will go places if he continues to work hard and get the right trainers”.
At the age of 11, in March 2018, Hakizimana won the East African U12 Championships held in Kigali before representing the country – and East Africa – at the African Championships later that year in Morocco.
According to Karenzi, the up-and-coming star is a product of talent detection programmes run by the federation, and his rise is proof that more young players can also make it.
“The future of our tennis lies in these youngsters. That is where we are focused. While we are celebrating Junior, we are sure that more of such talents will keep coming up,” Karenzi further added.
Hakizimana is not the first Rwandan to win an ITF scholarship, but he is the youngest to do so.
In the past, Ernest Habiyambere and Eric Hagenimana also trained at ITF High-Performance Centres in Morocco and South Africa.