CBN Open And Nigeria's Tennis Development

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Since 1978, the Central Bank of Nigeria has consistently sponsored the tennis tournament, known as the CBN Open Tennis Championship.

It is unarguably the most glamorous tennis competition in the country, which is organised annually by the Nigeria Tennis Federation.

The CBN Open has helped, over the years, in the discovery of tennis stars like David Imonite, Sadiq Abdullahi, Remi Osho, Sunday Maku, Veronica Oyibokia, Rolake Olagbegi, Clara Udofa, Margaret Oladunjoye, and more recently the likes of Shehu Lawal, Abdulmumuni Babalola, Sunday Emmanuel, Fatima Abinu, Destiny Da Silva, Taiwo Owolabi and a host of others.

There is no doubt the CBN Open, otherwise known as the All Nigeria Open Tennis Championship, has contributed immensely to the development of the game in Nigeria. The tourney has been a veritable ground for the selection of Nigeria’s representatives to major international tournaments like the All Africa Games and the Davis Cup.

The Governor of CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, underscored the importance of the tourney while speaking at the closing ceremony of this year’s edition at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.

He said the management of the apex bank is thrilled with the performance of the players, which is a clear evidence of the rising profile of the championship. “The CBN Open has noted with great satisfaction the high standard of play and professionalism exhibited by the players,” said Sanusi.

Apart from the glamour and prestige associated with being champion of the CBN Open, monetary incentives have also been the attraction for players’ participation.

And in its determination to continue to attract the best players to the tourney, made the event more competitive and to attract foreign based players, the overall prize money for the tourney was reviewed upwards from N6,010,000 to N6,840,000. The Men’s Singles winner went home with the sum of N600,000, while the women’s counterpart gets the sum of N400,000.

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This year’s tourney was won by Henry Atseye, who beat Nonso Madueke in straight sets of 7-5, 6-0 to win the Men’s Singles crown, while Abiola Akewula defeated Blessing Samuel 6-4, 7-5 to win the women’s event.

Other winners in the week-long tourney are the duo of Sunday Maku and Sunday Jegede, who won the Men’s Doubles. They beat Abdulmumini Babalola and Sunday Emmanuel in straight sets of 6-1, 6-1. The Women’s Doubles was won by the pair of Fatima Abinu and Omotayo Ibrahim, who defeated Blessing Samuel and Christy Agugbom in a game that ended 1-6, 7-6, 10-5.

The Mixed Doubles, which was re-introduced after 15 years, was won by Shehu Lawal and Fatima Abinu.

Applauding the contribution of the CBN Open to the development of the game in the country, President of NTF, Engr. Sani Ndanusa said that 33 years of partnership with the CBN is no mean feat, “and it has been fruitful and rewarding through the transformation of lives of our youths who have had to represent our dear country in different international tennis tournaments”.

The Nigerian junior coach, Mohammed Ubale, noted that the consistency of the CBN Open over the years, has really helped the game in the country. “The contribution of CBN Open cannot be measured because its organisation over the years has helped our game a lot,” he said.

Winner of the men’s event, Henry Atseye said the CBN Open has given the local players a platform to express themselves. He called on other corporate organisations to take a cue from the gesture of the apex bank and invest in Nigerian tennis.

—Bamidele Olowosagba