HARARE – Former Zimbabwean female tennis prodigy Tanya Gombera has turned to coaching in the United States following a modest playing career.
One of a handful of young black players once anointed as heir apparent to leading Zimbabwean female star Cara Black, Gombera did not scale the dizzy heights of international success as a player, but is making his mark as a coach at the University of North Dakota in the US.
Gombera was last year in is in her first season as an assistant coach with the men’s and women’s tennis teams, joining UND with a wealth of successful collegiate coaching and playing experience.
Gombera joined UND from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was the interim head coach for the 2012 season and a graduate assistant coach from 2010-2012, receiving her master’s degree in sports management. She was responsible for recruiting international players, aiding in the day-to-day operations and on-court coaching and practices.
At USM, the women’s team was recognized by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) for its academic achievements, receiving the ITA All- Academic Award for two straight years and coached Elja Van Berlo to All-Conference USA Academic Honours. Two of Gombera’s players finished their careers with more than 100 wins and placed in the top-10 of most combined singles and doubles wins for the Golden Eagles.
Prior to USM, Gombera was the head tennis coach at Malone University in Canton, Ohio for one season while also serving as the tennis marketing director at the Towpath Tennis Center.
Gombera graduated from the University of Akron in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration where she was a four-year letter winner for the Zips. Gombera played mostly No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles and finished her career in the top-10 of most combined singles and doubles wins. She was named to the all-conference team as a junior and senior and earned the Mid-American Conference Leanne Davidge Sportsmanship Award twice. During her career she was the first player in program history to earn wins against Big Ten opponents at the ITA Midwest Regional Tournament while also serving in the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).
Born and bred in Harare, Gombera represented Zimbabwe in the Africa Junior Championships and Zimbabwe Schools Team. In 2003 she won a silver medal at the All-Africa Games in Abuja, Nigeria and represented Zimbabwe in the Afro-Asia Games. As a junior, Gombera competed in many International Tennis Federation (ITF) events and held an ITF ranking of 453 in the world. – Sports Writer