I Want To Be A World Champion


 Tennis Special caught up with Mercy Okoh, a debutant at this year’s National Sports Festival in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. She spoke about her aspirations and the problems facing the game in the country at the tennis court of the University of Ibadan.


How do you rate tennis in the country?

The game is developing gradually but with a lot of challenges. It is unfortunate that the players the facilities are not up to international standard. There is dearth of tournament and no developmental programmes for upcoming players. The game is not given the needed publicity in the country like football.

How was your experience at the Garden City Games as a debutant?

It was a very good experience. The atmosphere was very tense because I was competing with more experienced players and I was under pressure to breakthrough to the national limelight. More importantly, I also did not want to disappoint the state I represented, my coach and fans. All these factors made the atmosphere very tense for me.

How are you combining academics with tennis?

It has not been easy combining education with sports. I need to be prepared psychologically because my target is to be educated and at the same time become a good tennis player.

The combination of the two is very tasking, but I need to forge ahead to make my dreams come true.

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What are your aspirations in life and your rank in Nigerian Tennis?

I’m yet to be ranked in the country due to my educational pursuits. I hope to become a professional player very soon after completing my degree programme at the University of Ibadan where I’m currently studying Political Science. My utmost ambition is to become an international player and a world champion.

How do you hope to achieve this feat with the way tennis is being managed in the country?

I need to put God first because He is the only one that can sustain me. I need to work extraordinarily. I need to be more committed, dedicated and diligent. With these, I’m optimistic that I would realise my dreams.

How do you think the game can be improved in the country?

First of all, there should be a developmental programme for young players. It is generally believed that before someone would become a world champion, he or she must have been playing tennis at the age of five. There should be a catch them young programme to discover and groom young players. The players need to be encouraged by increasing the prize money for competitions. There is need for more competitions to keep our players busy all the time.

What are your expectations at next year’s Sports Festival, which Lagos will host?

Personally, I want to surpass my record at the Garden City Games by winning a gold medal in the single event. The host state should make it open for all the participating athletes. It is good that Lagos is ahead in terms of organisation and provision of facilities and the organissers should proof it to the whole nation next year.

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