Athlete overcomes adversity, competition

Hard work, humbleness, and staying hungry are the keys to success for FAMU’s star tennis player, Pfungwa Mahefu. Mahefu came to FAMU four years ago from Zimbabwe.

The public administration student chose FAMU because the coach inspired him.

“I already had a friend at FAMU and I noticed good things happening for FAMU tennis,” Mahefu said.

Since his arrival, Mahefu has dedicated himself to education, working hard and his team.

The senior is the No. 1 singles tennis player at FAMU with a record of 12-8.

Mahefu is so good he represented his country at the Davis Cup in Serbia, Montonegro. He described the experience as an honor and hopes to play in the cup a second year.

Although Mahefu is a very down to earth individual, he takes no prisoners on the tennis court.

He unleashes a swift serve many opponents find hard to return. He moves quickly across the court, letting nothing pass him. He plays tenaciously and does so with a smile.

When asked what drives Mahefu to play so hard, he quickly replied, “My mother and father.”

His parents died several years ago. Before every match, he thinks of his parents, and it drives him to play hard. He said he believes his parents are watching over him and attributes much of his success to them.

This star athlete is not only a great player but he is also a great teammate. At least teammates like Courtney Burns think so.

“You can put your faith in him and he gives you a comfort level,” said Burns, a freshman agricultural business student. “Mahefu has made it easier for me to adjust.”

Mahefu said he feels like the big brother on the team.

“I am the oldest. I give guidance and support to younger players,” Mahefu said. “I tell them to work hard for the program because a lot has been sacrificed to make the tennis program what it is today.”

Mahefu said his relationship with the head men’s coach, Carl Goodman, is one he will never forget.

“Dr. Goodman is my mentor,” said Mahefu. He looks to Goodman for guidance and support and that’s just what he gets. “Dr. Goodman is one of the greatest guys I ever met. He believes in people and has something positive to say.

“He gave me a chance.”

On the other hand, Goodman agrees with Mahefu and says that he has grown big time.

“Mahefu has become a young man on and off the court,” Goodman said. “There are some players who make it to the next level, Pfungwa Mahefu has a great chance.”

Mahefu still has tennis in his blood. He plans to continue playing after graduation – but at a different level. “Upon graduation, I plan to pursue a professional tennis career,” Mehefu said.

If his dream of becoming a professional player doesn’t come true, Mahefu plans to pursue a Master’s degree in public administration.

Contact Quidara Russell at