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The opportunity of a lifetime

Erschienen in "Die Zeit" 51/2012

Von Fotograf Rainer Kwiotek und Autor Markus Wanzeck

A tennis academy in Ethiopia is training kids from the slums.

When she thinks back on the day that changed her life, Meron Getu has to laugh. It was 2002. She was playing outdoors in the evening with neighbor children when two young men came up the path between the corrugated huts of her slum in Addis Ababa. In their hands were fluorescent yellow balls made of felt. They asked: “Anybody want to play tennis?”

Their names were Tariku and Desta Tesfaye. Brothers, both coaches in an exclusive tennis club, and both possessed by the idea of training poor children for free. Early in the morning, before the club members hit the courts.

Meron took on the challenge. Now 16, she is one of Ethiopia’s top younger players and one of the beset in Africa. She won her first adult tournament at 13. She has won the East African Junior Championships six times …