Tasman Junior off to America for tennis scholarship - Nelson Mail
Melle van Duijn has labelled securing a scholarship to a university in the United States as the greatest achievement of his young tennis career.
The 18-year-old Nelson College leaver has only been playing tennis for the past six years and figured that meant a professional career was out of reach. However, after obtaining the scholarship to the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, van Duijn said he may have to reassess his long term ambitions, hoping that it will one day lead him to the top.
"Because I started fairly late with tennis, there was never the idea that I could play tennis professionally. But now, after the great help of [coach] Kolie [van Zyl], and two six month trips to South America to train, I will reassess this after I finish my studies in the States," he said.
The Tasman Tennis Club player praised the work of coach van Zyl and said without him he wouldn't have been able to secure the scholarship to the NCAA Division 2 university.
"Kolie has helped me incredibly well. Kolie is a strict coach and he really brought out the best of my tennis," he said.
"He was very dedicated to helping all his students and always made enough time to especially help me personally. He has helped me with gym sessions, personal trainings and has gone on a variety of tennis trips with myself and the clubs players.
"Because Kolie has also gone through the tennis scholarship system himself he got me to have everything organised early and in time to make things a lot smoother. "
Van Zyl said van Duijn will benefit from his time in the United States and expects him to come out a more well-rounded player.
"It's extremely competitive and you do become a better player but you also become mentally strong and you gain a lot of match experience through that collegiate tennis programme," van Zyl said.
"The level of tennis is top notch and a lot of the players I played against went on to the ATP Tour. He's got a lot of potential to play on the tour if he works really hard. His height and his big serve, which is a great weapon, will take him far."
Van Duijn described the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith as a "medium size university" and said the people were welcoming during a visit in November while the campus and town had a really good feel to it.
"I went over last month; thoroughly enjoyed my time and played well enough for them to offer me a scholarship. The scholarship is not quite 100 per cent, but I am hoping that I can reach this percentage with my academics," he said.
"I decided that I would go down the college route the moment I was made aware of it. The idea in itself is brilliant. I can get a fantastic education, play and better my tennis at the same time."
Van Duijn will base himself in Montevideo in Uruguay before heading to the United States in August.