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SA teen Montsi makes headlines Down Under

The South African who made the biggest splash at the Australian Open in January wasn't Kevin Anderson or Raven Klaasen but a teenage tennis player who hails from East London.

South African junior tennis player Siphosothando Montsi with Judy Murray. Picture: @JudyMurray/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - The South African who made the biggest splash at the Australian Open in January wasn't Kevin Anderson or Raven Klaasen but a teenage tennis player who hails from East London, but now plies his trade in Pretoria.

Siphosothando Montsi may have lost his first-round match in the Australian Open juniors, but he quickly made headlines when Judy Murray, mother of world number one Andy, congratulated him on his performance afterwards. Murray tweeted a photo with 17-year old Montsi and said: "Today I watched the most naturally gifted young player Siphosothando Montsi from South Africa."

Montsi described the moment as magical, saying: “It was definitely the best compliment I’ve received so far in my career. During my match I did see her watch me a bit and I saw her after my match and she just told me that she loved the way I played, especially the variety in my game, like my drop-shots. She said I’m really talented and need to keep on working hard, and also mentioned that she really loved my name!”

It was the first major tournament that Montsi had participated in and despite being knocked-out early, he said he loved every second of it.

“It was an amazing experience. I’ve played a couple of Grade A and Grade 1 tournaments but being in a Grand Slam is just something else. All the players in the draw will tell you that it’s just a different feeling. There were a lot of nerves but the atmosphere was absolutely amazing and I really enjoyed myself on the court.”

Much like the Williams sisters, Montsi is not the only talented tennis player in his family. His 14-year old brother Kholo is also making a name for himself on the country’s tennis courts.

“He’s number one in South Africa for his age group and has been number one for the past three years. He’s a really good tennis player, and also one to look out for in the future,” Montsi said.

So talented are the siblings, that they were offered places at the IMG Academy in Florida last year. However, they couldn't attend due to financial constraints, but Montsi hasn't given up hope just yet.

“The IMG academy is one of the best academies in the world. Unfortunately, due to funds, we weren’t able to go but we are still trying to go because while they have given us a scholarship, it is still really expensive, especially with the rand. As soon as we get the funds, we’ll be on our way.”

The Australian Open proper saw Roger Federer roll back the years to win his 18th Major title and Montsi said that while he admires the Swiss, his real hero is Novak Djokovic.

“He’s always been my favourite player since the day I started playing tennis. I look up to Roger Federer and Andy Murray but Djokovic is my number one.”

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