The Sunday Mail
WHEN Benjamin and Courtney Lock lifted their fifth ITF Futures doubles title of the year in Mozambique last week, a certain man was very proud of them.
That man is Freeman Nyamunokora, a young coach who likes to be under the radar despite his immense contribution to local tennis.
The Lock brothers are being touted as the next big thing after the legendary pair of Byron and Wayne Black.
Their mentor is 36-year-old Nyamunokora, who is also Zimbabwe’s highest qualified coach.
He holds an ITF Level 3 certificate as well as an ITF level three tutor qualification.
Nyamunokora’s biggest dream is to coach a player who will rise into the top 100 ATP rankings.
Considering the way the Locks have been playing, Nyamunokora believes this feat is achievable.
“It’s really special for siblings to play together.
“I have known them since they were young, I think Benjie was 12.
“We first travelled together when I was a junior national team’s coach. We played in the region and across Africa when Courtney was about 16.
“We understand each other as a team and I am happy with the progress we have made,” Nyamunokora said.
However, the young coach acknowledges that the journey to tennis stardom has not been smooth sailing.
“If you check, when we work together they often do well in their tournaments.
I am not saying I am the reason they win, those guys work hard, but when we practice together they tend to go far in tournaments, or even win.
“When the coach is around, a player focuses on playing only while the coach focuses on planning. But due to financial challenges, I am not always on tour with them.
“I wish I could be with them for at least 12 weeks, I believe as a team we would achieve more because this game has a lot more to do with the mental aspect.
“Imagine playing an opponent who has his coach around, it’s doable but very difficult,” he said.
Nyamunokora, a former Davis Cup team captain (2011-2012), said he enjoys working with hardworking players, adding that the Lock brothers are a pleasure in that area.
“They work hard. With more support I am still hopeful we will achieve big things.
“As a coach, it has always been my dream to coach an African player, born and bred on this continent, who can reach the ATP top 100 rankings,” said Nyamunokora, who is one of the founding members of the revered Mantas Tennis Academy in Mutare.
The Lock brothers, just like the Black brothers before them, have the potential to scale the dizzy heights this country once reached at the Davis Cup Group stage.
ln April 1998, the Black brothers beat giants Australia, led by then US Open champion Pat Rafter, a result that sent shock waves across global tennis.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is set to hold a two-week long ITF High Performance Coaching Course (Level 3) from November 25 in Harare.
“It’s a privilege to be one of the tutors for this course. We are expecting a number of African coaches to participate,” said Nyamunokora.