Advantage, Suzanie Pretorius!

His name is Schalk, Schalk Pretorius. And if it had not been for Schalk Pretorius, the North-West University (NWU) would have lost a tennis champion.

Many years ago, in the maize farming community of Bothaville, a young Schalk decided that he wanted to play tennis. Very well, said Mom Erika and Dad Vickus, you will play tennis. If the one child plays, the other one does too, and Schalk’s three-year-old sister Suzanie – still more toddler than person – also received a racket in the hand.

Today the 19-year-old shorty of 1,55 m still has a racket stuck to her hand … and a Protea jacket around her shoulders.

Brother Schalk abandoned his racket in matric, but Suzanie found something in tennis that has become an inseparable part of her life. Last year she won her senior Protea colours after she had also represented South Africa in the junior age groups.

Suzanie is a second-year student in Coaching Science at the NWU’s Potchefstroom Campus, where she also polishes her tennis skills every day. Being on the court, sweating for her goals – that is what she lives for.

“I am an aggressive player, I like hitting the ball, getting my points quickly. The better my opponent, the better I become. I am prepared to do everything possible to achieve my dreams. It is true that this is difficult in South Africa, because we do not have enough top-quality tournaments. My goal is to go and play in other countries.”

With her Yonex racket on a hard court, ready to deliver a forehand, she is at her most dangerous. However, her height means she has to work harder than many other players on her service to get the ball in the air. Like the legendary Amanda Coetzer – who stood 1,58 m in her socks – she uses every millimetre of her posture to her benefit.

“I am a bit short, but there are many positive things. I have a low centre of gravity, I have more balance and I am steadier on my feet. This suits my aggressive style,” she says.

One of her heroes is the former first-seeded female player in the world, Simona Halep of Romania, and Roger Federer will always remain her favourite.

When it comes to tennis, she has a lot in common with those two global stars, although it is doubtful whether they share her hobby: “I like crafts like crocheting and knitting. That comes from my grandmother,” she laughs.

Just the previous day an injury forced her to go for an MRI scan, and she is now waiting to hear how long the recovery period will be. If everything goes well, there are two Future tournaments ahead, and then the African Games in April, where she will attempt to qualify for the Olympic Games.

With hear head coach, Riaan Venter, and her conditioning coach, Colin Powell, by her side, she is ready for any challenge that may cross her path. And she does not lack support.

“I want to thank the NWU for all the support. The university wants me to achieve new heights, and that is very special.”

However, it does not stop there, because what inspires her is the two pillars on which her success has been built. “I want to tell my parents one day: ‘I made it. Thank you for your sacrifices.’”


Suzanie Pretorius

Submitted on Fri, 02/02/2024 - 14:04