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Featured Player: Wian Roothman, 18 years old, South Africa

Highest Ranking: 249 ITF Juniors

"I'm ranked third in South Africa," Wian says. The third best American junior gets incredible support from the USTA. "But our federation can't help me at all."

What keeps you from playing as many tournaments as you need to?

"South Africa is much, much farther from many big tournaments." The costs are incredible---he goes through two pairs of shoes each month. Tournament fees can be 100 USD, and the exchange rate crushes him. He's had to travel to Tunisia for tournaments.

What could you do with more playing opportunities?

"I lost in three sets in big tournaments, to a No. 6 seed, and to a No. 1 seed who was ranked 45 in the world. Both in the first round. If I played more, I'd be playing these guys in later rounds after I already earned a lot of points, and my ranking would be much higher. It's really tough to spend so much money and go home after just one match."


"I'm at public school, when all the other top South African players are homeschooled with private tutors or online classes. It helps them and European players travel a lot more. Plus I can't miss as much time or rearrange my classes like they can."

"I'd love to go to college first and then pro, like McEnroe. Somewhere I can play outdoors, California or the West Coast, where the climate's not too unlike home."


Wian's family is middle-class, but that means something different in South Africa. His father is a lawyer. "We don't make anywhere near the same as what lawyers make in the U.S.," he says. "We can't afford a nanny to help when Wian has to travel alone." With three children, his mother is a homemaker, and they can't spend inordinately on just Wian's sporting career.


  • Top 5,000 in the World, UTR

  • Top 600 Juniors, UTR

  • South Africa #3 Junior

  • Highest ITF: 249


  • 380 ITF

  • WTN: 14.2

  • UTR: 11.69

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