The Grey College pupil spent a month in Europe with an ITF/GSDF team, participating in a series of junior tournaments during July and August. He says that the lesson learnt in each tournament was mutual; to never back down, despite the circumstances.
“I’ve learned to never back down, no matter what the odds or how tough and big the opponents,” he told Courant.
“The importance of having a professional approach can’t be underestimated – you need to warm-up and stretch before and after games, train on your off-days, watch your diet, etc."
"It was also a great opportunity to meet other players and coaches from different parts of the world. It was nice to measure yourself against the best juniors of the world. It was great memories made for life,” he added.
The Grey College tennis star participated in five tournaments: 2 in France, 1 each in Netherland, Germany and Belgium, and reached the doubles quarter-finals and semi-finals in two tournaments.
These were all Grade 1 tournaments, the highest ranked junior tournaments in Europe played on clay-courts. An average of 130 players took part in these tournaments and each tournament lasted a week, with single and double matches.
Henning played in the doubles quarterfinals of the Internationale Deutsche Tennis Meisterschaften U14 -“ Kreis Düren JuniorTennis Cup” Düren in Germany and in the doubles semi-finals of the “Balle Mimosa”, International Jnr tournament, Nantes, in France.
This was part of the Europe Tennis Summer Tour and Philip happily admitted that although the competition was tough, each game was enriching.
“The best players all around the world participated and there were really good players. I’m an average size for a 13-year-old in SA, but amongst some of them I looked like a small child."
“When you step onto court, it’s a huge battle. When you step off the court, you’re great friends. There were no easy games and you had to work hard for every single point. The playing conditions were tough as well, as all of the tournaments were played on clay, which is what we don’t have in SA."
"However, I’ve realised the importance of consistency and a lot of ’clay-court tactics’ – different shots and a different approach to the game in certain situations,” he said.
Since arriving, Philip has played two inter-school tournaments. He has a busy schedule ahead of him as he is preparing for the two big SA tournaments in Bloemfontein in the September holidays before the SA Coastal Tournaments (4x) in December.