The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
TENNIS coach Emmanuel Mlalazi, who died on Thursday at a local hospital at the age of 42 will be laid to rest today.
Mlalazi, well-known in tennis circles as coach Mpi passed away on Thursday due to high blood pressure and diabetes complications.
At the time of his death, he was coaching at Emakhandeni Tennis Club and SOS Primary School. Witness Jiyane, the chairman of Emakhandeni Tennis Club described the late Mlalazi as an enthusiastic mentor who was willing to advance tennis in Bulawayo’s western suburbs with his desire being to bring back the National Tennis Development (NTD) initiative which existed in the 1980s.
“He was a dedicated coach who was keen on developing tennis in high density areas in a bid to resuscitate NTD programme that was there during the 1980s. He produced one of the most talented players namely Sibusiso Sibanda who won an Under-10 provincial tournament last year aged five,’’ Jiyane said.
With Mlalazi gone, Jiyane feels that Emakhandeni Tennis Club will never be the same. So passionate was Mlalazi about the place that he wanted to attend to the Emakhandeni tennis courts but could not do so because of measures in place to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
“Emakhandeni Tennis Club will never be the same without him, he was always prepared to go an extra mile, kids loved him. It’s impossible to get a man of his character. During Covid-19 he wanted to remove weeds in the tennis courts but was denied access due to Covid-19 regulations.”
Bulawayo Tennis Board development officer, Thesley Mufunda also echoed Jiyane’s sentiments about Mlalazi being passionate about tennis development, particularly at Emakhandeni.
“Sad day for Bulawayo tennis. The guy was passionate about developing tennis especially at Emakhandeni. He was a keen coach as well who always wanted to be better. He would always ask how he can be better,’’ Mufunda said.
Mufunda said Mlalazi constantly contributed on issues to do with the refurbishment of Emakhandeni Tennis Club.
“We worked with him during tournaments. He brought kids from Emakhandeni and always participated in issues to revamp Emakhandeni. My heart goes out to his family and all the kids who looked up to him, they loved him and he has left a void in the Bulawayo tennis family. He always volunteered his services and was always available to give a hand.”
Mlalazi was not married and had no children. He lived with his mother and niece in Emakhandeni. – @Mdawini_29