8th February, 2011
Ubale Mohammed, the national junior coach of Nigeria Tennis Federation took the country to a goodÂ outing at the recently concluded qualifying tournament for the African Junior Tennis Championship,Â AJC, in Winniba, Ghana. Nigeria picked some tickets to feature in the main AJC scheduled for Cairo inÂ April this year. He told Taiwo Adelu about the chances of Nigeria surpassing last yearâ€™s achievementÂ at the AJC in this interview
The AJC qualifiers in Ghana have come and gone. What is your next programme for the players in termsÂ of preparation for the Cairo Championship?
Iâ€™m so glad that we went to Ghana and did not disappoint the country. Our plan now is to begin anÂ early preparation for the main championship in Cairo. A good preparation would surely bring the bestÂ out of the players. One of the plans is to camp the players early enough, play a lot of matches, notÂ just practise but expose them to rigorous competitive environment in order to shape them for theÂ challenges ahead.
How would you go about the programme between now and the time of the competition?
I will be going to Abuja to meet with the President of the federation, Sani Ndanusa, and his vice,Â Yemi Owoseni to discuss about the programme I have for the camping. I hope that things work out asÂ Â planned so that we can start the preparation as soon as possible.
The North Africans are known to be the main obstacle to Nigeria in the African junior tennis, how doÂ you plan to meet up with their challenges this time around?
I must confess, the North Africans are good in the game. My worry is that we are going to Egypt toÂ play on clay court but in Nigeria here we are used to the hard court. Another problem is that most ofÂ the players we are taking to the AJC are youngsters, who have little exposure on the clay court. TheÂ plan now is to expose the players to the clay court we have in the country. That is why I want to campÂ them in Kaduna where we have good clay courts to train the players. Nevertheless, I donâ€™t think weÂ should be afraid ofÂ the North Africans and I believe weâ€™ll give them a good run for their money thisÂ year.
What are your expectations at the AJC this year?
Iâ€™m optimistic that we wonâ€™t disappoint the country. My target is to improve on the feat we recordedÂ last year when Abuja hosted the AJC. We have good players who are ready to do the nation proud. SomeÂ of them are playing circuits around the continent which will help in our preparation for the AJC.