Swinging Into A New Life

"A place for dreamers..."

Olivia C.

Zibu Ncube: Immigrated from Zimbabwe

December 16, 2019

Wide, eager eyes watch me closely as I get my notes together. He, with his curly black hair and dark, sunbaked skin, shifts in his chair.  Zibu Ncube, my tennis coach, immigrated from Zimbabwe over twenty years ago. Yet, he still remembers every detail of his story like it was yesterday.

I had only thought of Zibu as my tennis coach who’s humble but confident, who works almost 24/7, who has a six-month-old beautiful baby boy.  That was the extent of my knowledge about him. But there was another aspect of his life I knew nothing about, until this interview. 

Since he was thirteen years old, Zibu imagined starting a new life in the United States. He saw this country as a land of tremendous opportunity and freedom, “a place for dreamers.”  He found his opportunity to fulfill his dreams through tennis, by securing a position on a college tennis team in Dallas. “August 23, 1996 is when I arrived” he said, like he had thought about it so many times before. He was sixteen years old. He arrived with one suitcase and four-hundred dollars in his pocket.  Three-hundred dollars were spent on a two-hour cab ride from Tyler, Texas, leaving him with one hundred dollars, no car, and no place to stay. “All I really had left were my tennis skills, and I was so unsure. I had to get used to new faces, a new culture, and new accents.” he told me. 

Tennis is what brought Zibu to the United States, and tennis is all he had to keep him going.  He slowly worked his way up, staying in college dorms and stringing rackets and coaching to earn money.  Now, sitting in his yard, with his European red clay tennis court in the background, he smiles to himself as he reflects on what he has accomplished. “I knew this was going to be my home, it was just a matter of adapting and accepting that this was my new life.”