Tafadzwa Zimoyo
Every afternoon Roy Nyarambi takes off his motor mechanic personae. The 40-year old heads to his club to don his sports gear for a game of tennis.

When he was young, like most children of his age then, Roy dreamt of becoming a football superstar.

But his dream was rather short lived.

“A teacher at Mazowe Boys, the high school I attended, frankly told me that I was never going to be a good footballer,” he said.

“In spite of all my efforts and dedication, it was just not my area!”

Determined to find a discipline that he could master and call his own, Roy tried his hand at the whole repertoire at Mashonaland Central School for boys that is recognised as one of the best all round institutions in the country.

The moment he held a tennis racquet in his hand in 1993, Roy knew he had found his niche.

And he has not looked back since.

Decades later, although he never pursued the sport professionally, tennis has become a lifestyle and he endeavours to play a few sets a day.

Finding his space in doubles, Roy and his partner were elated to clinch the runner-up title at the Murape Memorial Tournament.

He is just one among a crop of health conscious people who has made a sporting discipline an integral part of his day.

“Tennis keeps me fit and takes my stress away,” says Roy. “So, it is how I take care of my health.”

Like any other sport that one takes on professionally or as a social habit, tennis comes with expenses.

There is the equipment and gear. There are club membership fees and costs for travel and related social events.

But Roy believes it is an investment that is well returned.

“Tennis is a sociable game and it keeps me connected with my friends, peers and colleagues.

“It is also a networking avenue as we travel and meet up with members from other clubs,”  he says

Roy, a mechanic and executive director of East Tree Motors, a motor spares and accessories distribution company, says just by his dedication to tennis, he is inspiring young people to broaden their horizons and not be limited in their dreams and aspirations.

He says some people who know him from his Kaguvi Street shop and Mufakose home, both in Harare, sometimes find it a bit strange to hear that he is a tennis player.

“They believed that such sports are for the northern side of town,” he says. “But nowadays, I hear some of the young men from the neighbourhood talk about tennis. They watch the matches and understand what is going on. We have more and more youngsters from high density suburbs taking up tennis and that is a positive development.”

Roy says it is not strange for a mechanic and spares distributor to be a tennis player as there are many things in common for the two fields.

“With both tennis and motor mechanics, you have to be on top of your game,” he says. “You can be creative, but you must stay within precise guidelines. There are also the fine motor skills and the element of thinking ahead.

Roy assessing a car part

“And the aim is always to win. With a vehicle, success is when it is running perfectly, and with tennis it is the glory of winning the match.”

Along with other athletes, tennis players have also felt the pinch of Covid-19.

“We were all relieved when the restrictions on some sports were finally lifted,” Roy enthused.

“It was hard living without tennis. Although I did exercise and try to keep fit, it is just not the same. There is a certain adrenaline that comes with running around the court and hitting the ball.”

Roy is married to Letwin Muzuwanzira, and the couple’s older children, Nathaniel Takunda and Michael Tanaka are already immersed in the tennis lifestyle.

Perhaps their four-year old sister Nain Tinovonga wills also join them soon.

Roy says if a tennis prodigy should come out of his house, he would be elated.

In addition to East Tree Motors, he would be happy to leave the legacy of a tennis lifestyle to his children.

“Health is the best asset you can own in life and a healthy lifestyle is your investment,” adds Roy.