Talented kids who are training at Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre have stolen the heart of one of the best tennis coaches in the world.
An Israeli born Ronen Moralli, who has produced top international tennis stars such as Andy Ram, has conceded that he has "fallen in love with" young talent displayed by Soweto kids.
"I was impressed with the kids here, their talent, the respect they have towards their coaches. I was struck by how well-mannered they are," said Moralli.
Moralli recently visited the country and spent about a week conducting tennis workshops for the young athletes. He also spent time giving advising to the local coaches from 3 to 7 March 2014.
Under his achievements, Moralli discovered Andy Ram – who is famous for being the first Israeli tennis player to win a seniors Grand Slam event. He first won the mixed doubles title at the 2006 Wimbledon Championships, together with Vera Zyonareva. Amongst others, he also won men's doubles title at the 2008 Australian Open with Jonathan Erlich.
Andy Ram who was once ranked number 5 in the world in the doubles and his playing partner Jonathan Erlich were both discovered and trained by Moralli from the young age.
Moralli is passionate about discovering talent from the disadvantage areas. In Israel, he works at the Israel Tennis Centre, which has various facilities around the country. These facilities are aimed at giving opportunity to every child to play the sport of tennis, particularly focusing at disadvantage children.
He said Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre was similar to the tennis centres he works at in Israel; which attract amazing talent from the underprivileged children. Seeing underprivileged kids beating the odds is what attracted Moralli to Soweto.
"I've been here for only four days, but my heart is here," he said.
He said it was facilities like Arthur Ashe in Israel which discovered Andy Ram, Jonathan Erlich, Harel Levy who once held the singles ranking of World No. 30 and Noam Okun.
Moralli, who has coached many tennis stars for over 24 years, said in his career he has found that many of the kids the society says are problematic are actually the talented ones.
"Andy was a problematic kid and was not behaving very well. I learnt how to communicate better with him. As his coach, our relationship deepened over time to become a father and son relationship. In the 24 years I've worked as a coach I don't remember going home after a tiring day without a smile," he said.
Now that Moralli's heart is in Soweto, he hopes one day to have an exchange Programme with the kids training at Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre going to Israel to meet their peers.