Nineteen-year-old Lebelo Alex Mosehle is definitely on the road to tennis stardom after being offered a two-year scholarship to study at the Seward County Community College in the United States of America (US).
The Maseru West-born teenager leaves the country on 15 August 2015 for his dream expedition, and on Tuesday told the Sunday Express he feels blessed to have been afforded such an opportunity to further his tennis career.
“As a young kid playing tennis, I always dreamt of going to the States to perfect my game and that will finally be happening next month. I think I will be the first Mosotho going to the US on a tennis scholarship.
“However, while I am grateful for this opportunity, I will continue to work hard to realise my long-cherished dream of becoming a professional tennis player,” he said.
Mosehle told the Sunday Express he started playing the game at the age of 10 at Sefikeng Sa Moshoeshoe Tennis Court in Maseru, where he used to watch the sport alongside his brother.
“It’s amazing how this all started. At first, we would watch the sport on weekends at the tennis court together with my brother (Thato) and my friends. In-fact, we would watch from a distance and steal the tennis-balls of those in training until we were invited to practice with them one day. From that day, my brother made sure he went to Sefikeng Sa Moshoeshoe Tennis Court whenever he had the chance, while I was not really interested and would go and play football at Maseru Club, instead.
“My brother is the person who later inspired and encouraged me to play tennis because he would drag me with him until I ended up falling in love with the sport. I was doing my primary education at New Millennium at the time.”
After primary school, Mosehle was awarded a scholarship to study at Glenwood House College in Western Cape, South Africa, in 2010.
“After finishing my primary education, my then coach, Letona Mokhitli, left the country and asked me to join him in South Africa. I was ranked number five in Africa in the under-14 category at that time so when he left, I was really frustrated because I was thinking my career was over before it had even started. However, he asked me to join him in the Western Cape and I was awarded a half-scholarship by the Great Tennis Academy of South Africa.
“However, the fees were still too much for my parents and was supposed to leave when I was about to do Grade Nine. But when I discussed this with the Academy, the college officials decided to award me a full scholarship; I think they had seen the potential in me hence this change of my status.”
According to Mosehle, it was “very challenging” for him to get a place at the school because no-one knew about him and his tennis potential.
“It was difficult to get a place because I was from Lesotho and no one had ever heard about me at the school. But as soon as I was accepted, I made sure I stamped my authority.”
Born in a family of three, Mosehle is the second born of Thabiso and Mathato Mosehle and says his parents were not even interested in tennis at the beginning.
“My parents were not into tennis, and my father was a big football fan. The reason I decided to focus on tennis was because I wanted to do individual sports because I was no longer enjoying team-sport so in tennis, it is all about myself.”
Mosehle said he is currently preparing to represent Lesotho at the 2015 All-Africa Games set for 4-12 September in Brazzaville, Congo.
Asked about the level of tennis in Lesotho, Mosehle said: “The problem with sport in this country is it is taken as a recreational activity so this attitude somehow hinders its growth.
“Take tennis for example; the only active players are the juniors because there are some regional tournaments they take part it, while there is nothing for the seniors. This is where we differ with the likes of South Africa. In South Africa, there is a strong support base for all the players while here there is no back-up for us at all.
“There is a lot of talent in this country but I think somehow, we are let down by people in authority. A good example is our poor preparations before big international competitions; there is no way we can come out tops if we continue doing things this way.
“It is more like giving us a gun and not teaching us how to shoot; we need to play in as many competitions as we can to gain the much-needed exposure before these big competitions. I always play the same opponents here at home and we all know what the results would be so how am I going to improve under such conditions? It is good that our government is trying to help but I think the authorities can do better.”
Mosehle also said his parent have since become very supportive of his tennis career.
“I remember when I started playing tennis, I would be barefoot because my parents were always telling me that they could not afford to buy me sneakers. But things have changed now as they are giving me full support although they have also made it clear that I have to concentrate on my studies as well.
“However, I have told myself that this is what I want and will do anything to succeed in my tennis career.”
Mosehle had a word of advice for his fellow youths.
“In life, you must first identify what you want to do and give your best in it. I had to make many sacrifices to still be playing tennis to this day. Discipline and dedication have also enabled me to stay focused, and above all, make sure you are surrounded with the right people who will give you the necessary motivation.”
Name: Lebelo Alex Mosehle
Date of birth: 3 January 1996
Place of birth: Maseru West
Honours: 2015 Glenwood Sportsman of the year; Currently ranked Number 1 in Lesotho.
Played for the national under-12, u/14, u/16, u/18 and u/20 teams.
Favorite meal: Pizza; something meaty
Dream car: BMW 480 series
Role model: World Number One tennis player Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
Marital status: In a relationship.