Tennis prodigy Seelenbider’s incredible rise

• By Michael Uugwanga

BEFORE Florian Seelenbinder had turned four years, his parents already had the feeling their son was destined to become a star and today Seelenbinder, now 11-year is making a big name for himself in tennis, not only in Namibia but the world at large.

Seelender who currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa showed the world that he is one for future, following a third-place finish at the HTV Internationals for U-12 players in Frankfurt, Germany in September this year, losing in the semi-finals 3-6,3-6 to Germany’s Johan Schick.

In an interview with Confidente this week, Seelenbinder talked about his journey, his love for tennis, his idol and the future.

At the age of 11, Seelenbinder has a number of titles under his belt, such as the 2022 TSA Wilson Grand Prix in Durban, South Africa U-12 singles, the 2022 Cavaliers Mini U-12 singles, the 2022 Cape Town Mini singles U-12 singles, the Windhoek 2022 U-14 singles as well as the Winelands mini U-12 singles.

“Against my mother’s advice, my father introduced me to tennis and after a few broken ornaments, he subsequently encouraged me to start taking tennis lessons on a proper tennis court at the age of three (3) in Swakopmund.

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I had some lessons once a week, but was more interested in in-line hockey at that stage. At the age of five (5), we moved to Mauritius and the only sport there that I was interested in was tennis. While in Mauritius, I met some great coaches and the tennis bug bit me. I was hooked from there.”

Currently, Seelenbinder is on the books of Anthony Harris Tennis Academy in Cape Town where he trains six times a week and is currently doing online and homeschooling (Cambridge Curriculum), having recently completed his grade six (6).

“Homeschooling makes traveling easier and allows me to concentrate on my tennis. In addition to my parents, I also have two extra tutors who helps me. Getting good grades is very important for me. I do not have a specific coach.

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I have eight (8) coaches including my dad and my mom who play a vital role “behind the scenes” role from a strategic and mental perspective. All coaches have different strengths that complete the holistic training process,” Seelenbinder said.

His semi-finals loss in Germany was a sign that greater things are yet to come from him, with his focus now firmly on upcoming competitions before the end of the year.

This tournament was quite an experience as playing on clay is different to hard court. It felt good to come third as it was my first semi final in singles on clay at an international tournament. My goal is to be first and I will achieve that. I will be playing a few more International tournaments in November and in December in Europe as well as the Growth Point tournaments in Cape Town,” he said.

Just like any other youngster in any sport code, there is always that superstar they want to emulate and Sleelenbinder is no exception to this with his tennis idols being the 20-grand slam winner, Swiss maestro, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

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“I have a few idols but I look up to Federer, because he is so elegant on the court, he is fast and aggressive. I also like Rafael Nadal, because he fights to the bitter-end and because he should not have continued to play tennis because of his injuries and yet he did and achieved greatness. I also like Novak Djokovic, he is cunning on the court and always makes a plan to get a good result. It is my dream to become a World number One as well as a Grand Slam champion,” Sleelenbinder has said.