The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
NATIONAL Tennis Development founder, Larry Katz (63) has died. Katz, who was now living in South Africa, founded the NTD that spearheaded the spread of tennis from being an elite sport reserved for the minority to previously underprivileged areas. He passed away on Wednesday after a long illness.
The NTD saw the springing up of several tennis centres in the western suburbs that included Tshabalala, White City, Barbourfields and Emakhandeni with Waterford also benefitting from the programme.
Former tennis national team player, Dave Simba said Katz played an instrumental role in bringing the game to black people who previously were not given the chance to play the sport.
“He committed to seeing black people play the sport because at the time, just after independence, tennis only featured white people but his efforts changed all that. He personally funded us as we attended tournaments in Botswana and Zambia.
“Through Katz’s effort there emerged a number of coaches who went on to spread the sport throughout the western suburbs. Dallas Siso, Prince Madema and I were some of the early coaches to help enlist more players,” he said.
Simba said Katz also assisted Patrick Mlauzi become the first local black player to earn a scholarship to a university in USA. Mlauzi also became the first black national team player.
Emakhandeni Tennis Club chairman, Witness Jiyane said Katz continued supporting local tennis even after moving to South Africa and assisted his efforts in reviving the sport at Emakhandeni.
Jiyane said Katz also paid for his transport and accommodation to attend a coaching workshop in South Africa last year that was organised by Spain-based Tennis Aid.
“There are many success stories that emerged from his initial efforts to see the sport grow among blacks. Many managed to attain scholarships and are now based out of the country through NTD while some of us are here and still spreading the sport as coaches,” he said.