RISING Zimbabwean female tennis ace Nicole Dzenga continues to make tremendous strides towards achieving her dream of pursuing a professional tennis career after a remarkable season for the University of South Florida (USF) women’s tennis team.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 20-year-old US-based player was last week named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in American Athletic Conference Women’s Tennis Championship after inspiring USF to a historic 4-2 upset over top-seeded University of Tulsa in Orlando, Florida last Saturday.
Dzenga, a former Zimbabwe Junior Sportsperson of the Year, clinched a hard-fought 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory against Martha Matoula to secure the coveted title for her team, having earlier teamed up with classmate Vanja Klaric for a 7-6 triumph in the doubles.
“It felt great to clinch the match in both singles and doubles,” Dzenga told Standardsport in an interview from her base in the US last week.
“I just wanted to do my part for the team as well as I could and it all worked out in the end. It was a very dramatic experience which I’ll never forget. I am extremely humbled to have won the MVP award.
“It was great to be recognised by the tournament as a key contributor and it inspires me to work harder in the future. For the team, this win means everything. It has opened up new doors for us to play higher level teams and we have started a new culture for our athletic programme,” she said.
Dzenga, who was introduced to tennis by her father Regis – the former Zifa board member and owner of the now defunct football franchise Harare United – credited her recent success to hard work and the support from her teammates.
“I have learned a lot in my first two years of college. From barely playing as a freshman to playing as high as number two in the line-up this year, it has taught me about my game and what I need to do to get better. I am constantly competing and learning from my teammates, which has helped me to improve as a player on a daily basis.”
Dzenga’s ultimate goal, however, is to play professional tennis the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour and she believes, college tennis in the US is the perfect springboard for her to achieve her goal.
“After college my goal is to play professionally. My college experience is a step in achieving that goal. Winning conference was a big goal of mine, so I am very glad to have achieved it so early in my career. In the future, I would like to reach as high as I can in the collegiate rankings both for my team and individually and compete in the National Championships.”