After the cancellation of the Mozambique tournament due to floods, local tennis ace Phenyo Matong’s first gig for the year will be the Easter Classics next month in South Africa. Matong said he will use this event to prepare for the Nigerian Futures which is billed for the end of April.
The Easter Classics is an open tournament which means it does not influence in any way the International Tennis Federation (ITF) rankings. However, the Nigerian Futures is a ranked tournament and if Matong does well in his rankings will improve. The tennis ace’s highest rankings is 1541, recorded on 26th May 2014.
“I will use this tournament to prepare for my next big events like the Nigerian Futures. There is also the Davies Cup and the All Africa Games ahead so this Easter tournament will be a morale booster for me as I will use it regain my confidence,” said Matong.
The Nigerian tournament is expected to test Matong’s fitness and strength against tennis’ best players. The Nigerian Futures is expected to attract big names like Croatian and first seed Borna Coric, South African Ruan Roelofse and Indian Vishnu Vardhan. However Matong said he is ready for any opponent.
Matong is one of the few individual athletes to be endorsed by a local company. In 2013 he struck a deal with a local clothing company Dlala and the label is still sponsoring him. Botswana’s number one said the deal has benefited him and it has helped him by providing him with all the necessary merchandise.
“Even though it is hard for an individual athlete to acquire sponsorship, Dlala has decided to endorse me. They give me sportswear, casual wear and training kits and I am grateful,” said Matong.
Dlala Director Lesedi Mmopi said their relationship with Matong has been wonderful. Mmopi said their merchandise has been marketed well by the tennis star as they have seen positive response since sponsoring him.
When asked about the terms of the contract Mmopi said they have an “agreement” but do not have a binding contract. He said the deal does not have a period as it would not expire as long as Matong continues to have good relations with them.
“The contract is timeless. Matong is our number one and a brand, we are going to sponsor him even after he retires,” said Mmopi.