One of Ethiopia’s leading tennis players is presently in Germany to participate in a major tournament as a professional. Yonas Gebre, a sixteen year old ace player, was given a chance to play against Europe’s leading professional tennis players as a wild card invitee. Yonas is believed to be the first Ethiopian player to participate in such a professional tournament.
Yonas, accompanied by his coach Tariku Tesfaye travelled to Germany and the United States several times in the past to participate in junior tournaments. It was at one of these youth tournament that the organizers of MLP cup spotted Yonas as a potential future professional.
Yonas started playing tennis at a very early age at “Tariku and Desta Kids Education through Tennis” project, an indigenous Ethiopian NGO dedicated to teach Tennis and normal schooling to children from under privileged families. Tariku and Desta themselves from a poor family, began their tennis careers as ball boys in a tennis club in Addis Ababa. They proved themselves to be so good that they began coaching tennis for club members. They then went on to represent their country in many tournaments around Africa. Both Tariku and Desta are internationally licensed coaches.
Yonas has won many tennis championships in Ethiopia and Africa having represented his country in regional tennis championships. The trip to Germany was facilitated by the generous donation of two tickets by Egypt Air. Yonas’s earlier trip to Miami Florida, in the United States to participate in the most important youth tournament Florida’s Orange Bowl in 2008 was also facilitated by Egypt Air.