Community Sports News

SA’s ‘Little Rafa’ looks very much like a future ‘Big Rafa’

6 June 2016
By Ilan Hermann, Jewish Report 22 - 27 May 2016.
He hits a forehand with the ferocity of a senior player. At 13, Dylan Salton is a rising star and has now moved up the rankings to becoming second in South Africa for his age category in tennis.

Dylan doesn’t like to talk much and as he puts it: “I’d rather let my game do the talking.” And it does. He has recorded some impressive wins at both provincial and at SA national schools’ levels and is now gearing up to playing Junior International Tennis Federation-affiliated tournaments, which will enable ITF points to be won and for him to develop a ranking on the international stage. If successful, this could lead to qualification for ITF international junior tournaments.

This King David Linksfield learner took a liking to tennis when he was only five years old and he enrolled in sessions at Glenhazel courts. He subsequently moved to Old Eds and then in 2012 found his home at the Real Athletes Tennis Academy, one of the top tennis academies in the country, run by national Federation Cup captain, Earl Grainger. Grainger speaks glowingly of Dylan: “He is a fantastic talent. He has a major passion for the sport and a great work ethic. He has all the assets to succeed and although it’s a long road with many challenges to come, at this moment I can say he has a future in the game.” Dylan is an all-rounder and led his school’s soccer team as captain and had played school cricket until Grainger recognising his exceptional talent, recommended he should make a choice of where he wanted to focus in his sport. Dylan chose tennis. Dylan generally trains five days a week with sessions of about two to three hours. He has a voluminous forehand and a smashing serve; with his strength also being in his topspin, shape of hit and depth of shot. One of the stand-out qualities that he possesses is in his consistency, giving his all to his game. He is a left-hander and has an uncanny likeness in his style to that of Rafael Nadal. He has in fact been called “Little Rafa”.

Young Dylan has won many tournaments, including the recent 1000 Wilson Challenge. He qualified for the SA high schools’ provincial team, despite being younger than many of the other competing players. He qualified for Maccabiah 2017. Although devoting many hours to tennis, he is equally committed to his academic studies. His mother insists that he will first finish his schooling and then, if tennis doors are open to him, they will consider a career move for him in the form of a scholarship in the US. “Little Rafa” met “Big Raffa” two years ago when Dylan went to the Tennis Academy in Majorca, Spain, for a two-week clinic. It was an unforgettable experience which opened his eyes to the far more enriched European style and experience of tennis. Observers noted that his game was well suited to the clay courts there.

Back to News