Standing by the court, she is trying to catch the best light and find the perfect angle faor a great picture with her smartphone. Having clicked a few times the young blond woman seems finally satisfied. If you ever attend a wheelchair tennis tournament you have to come across Mariska Venter, the golden blond with the charming smile who lives fully each second of her life. Appreciated by all for her energy, her kindness and her generosity, Mariska Venter brings a breath of fresh air to the tournament.
A talented youngster
Her tenistic talent got off to a speedy start. Though she started playing in her college at the late age of 14, it only took 3 years before she became No 1 in the junior category. The adolescent, though capable of progressing rapidly, decides to first obtain her diploma before engaging into a tennis carrer. It is in 2015 that the player decides to start her career as a professional in wheelchair tennis. The young woman from Pretoria starts travelling around the globe as the tournaments in South Africa do not add up enough points. From the States through Northern Europe, Italy and Belgium, Venter has been carrying her rackets along with her smile and energy! In 2017 she reaches the top of her career so far by becoming 22nd in the doubles category. Playing as a professional is expensive, especially when living so far from where the big tournaments take place. Venter leaves home for long periods – mostly in Europe – far from her family and friends. A ‘hard life but a nice life’ said Venter in an interview.
An extravagant player
All the pressure does not prevent the young professional player from enjoying life. Venter, with her passion for modelling and fashion, stands out in an environment where discipline and rigour are key. Venter is a social media fan and manages her image on Facebook and Instagram. With 2678 followers on Instagram, Venter proves imaginative and a tad … extravagant. She’ll take selfies after a victory, pictures of other players or hand out advice! Her personality transpires in her game. Offensive and agressive, she hits hard and is always on the look out for the fatal strike. The brutality of her game contrasts with the feminity which transpires in her. Her whole facial expression changes when she’s on a court: the cheerful and charming face darkens and gives way to total concentration. Once the match over, the icy young woman once again becomes cheerful and charming.
A head full of dreams Mariska Venter has many dreams !
At 21, she is full of high hopes and great dreams, no limits, no frontiers. Her main objective is to represent her country at the Paralympics. ‘I plan to give everything I can to be qualified for the Tokyo games in 2020. If the objectif seems difficult (you have to be amongst the top 23 players), the challenge could be an easy one for a player who never gives in.
Venter is planning to settle down in Europe to prepare for the Paralympics. “I’d love to have my own apartment somewhere in Europe“, she says. Her dreams go beyond just the tennis courts. A student in marketing, she hopes to be successful in this domain, which she loves. However, her greatest dream would be to become famous as a model. She often participates in photo shootings, like she did this summer between tournaments. Not only does she enjoy it but she also hopes to send out a message: ‘it’s time to discredit stereotypes and change the image of women in wheelchairs’. The creation in 2017 of the 1st Miss Wheelchair World’ contest, which Venter hopes to enter in a few years, has already got things moving. Proof of this new mind change are numerous: in Ukraine, Alexandra Koutas became the 1st handicapped model of her country. Times are changing as fast as Venter’s dreams. ‘I have many dreams and they keep changing’. Nothing surprising coming from someone so extraordinary!