Salif Kante has demonstrated his skills on the tennis court by winning a national championship at the junior college level and helping the Rattlers win an HBCU national championship.
Kante, a fourth-year public relations student from Dakar, Senegal, has returned home to represent his country in the African Nations Cup.
Kante was the No. 1 tennis player coming out of Senegal in 2009. He transferred to Florida A&M from Georgia Perimeter College, where he won a junior college national championship.
Kante understands the magnitude of the African Nations Cup and the pressure associated with representing his country on an international stage. However, he is ready for the challenge.
“Since it’s at home, we want to do even better because people expect a lot of things from us,” Kante said. “So we have to get the job done.”
The tournament began Monday and will last through Sunday. It allows Senegal, the host nation, to have five men and five women participate. Other countries are allowed three men and three women.
Kante is also excited about representing the Rattlers in Senegal because he is able to show how he has grown as a player and a person since arriving at FAMU.
Men’s tennis coach Carl Goodman is proud of the progress Kante has made as an individual as well as an athlete.
“Now, he is an outgoing person,” Goodman said. “With the leadership that he has and the confidence that he has, I am sure he is going to do relevantly good over there.”
The tournament is an opportunity for Kante to bounce back after struggling with injuries throughout most of the fall.
“I been going to the training room to get some rehab,” Kante said. “They have been working on me for the last three weeks, and now I am feeling better.”
The athletic trainers have been pushing the limits of Kante’s body since the rehab began to make sure he is 100 percent.
“He is moving better now,” said Alfred, one of Kante’s training partners.
Kante has the chance to bring glory and victory to Senegal and FAMU.
“It’s kind of exciting because not only do I get to represent my country but I get to represent FAMU,” he said.
Kante won his first match against Ivory Coast 6-2, 6-2 and beat the fourth seed from Morocco to advance to the quarterfinals. He will face competitors from Nigeria in the next round.