Serena Is My Role Model


Simbiat Aleem, a 200 level undergraduate student of Osun State University, spoke with Tennis Special about her career in tennis and other issues

How do you see tennis in the country?
Tennis is a good game, but sports administrators in the country do not give it the needed attention like football and some other games. Players don’t get sponsors as it is being done in the developed countries. The Nigeria Tennis Federation, NTF, is not doing its best to monitor players.

Why lack of sponsors for the game?
The situation is very bad in Nigeria. The focus of everybody is on football. Most Nigerians believe it is only football that can bring honour to the nation. This  should not be. Nigerians need to invest in other games and most especially tennis, to discover more talents and encourage them to remain focused in the game. All of us cannot  play football. The mentality and orientation of Nigerians must change to give other sports necessary attention.

How do you rate the National Sports Festival?
National Sports Festival is good for the discovery and grooming of the upcoming athletes. It is the only national sporting fiesta that encourages and offers young athletes the platform to showcase their  talents. If not  for the festival, many of us would not be able to participate in other national competitions. After the sports festival, there is nothing for us to do again. It is even hard for some of us to train. Players need competitions to get them busy throughout the year because the more you play tennis the better you are in the game.

How did you start playing  this game?
It was my parents that encouraged me. I started playing tennis in my secondary school days. Some  of my classmates and I  were selected for our school basketball team.  My dad kicked against this but later took me to Abeokuta Tennis Club, where he is a registered member. From there I started training with some other people at the club.

When was that?
It was when I was in Junior Secondary School, JSS3 in 2001.

What is your best performance at  the sports festival?
The highest stage that I reached in the last two editions of the sports festival was the quarter final. My exit was caused by  lack of concentration. I was always too busy to prepare for the competition. In 2006, I was busy preparing for my  Senior School Certificate examination. This made it difficult for me to train very well for the Gateway Games in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

What is your expectation in next year’s sports festival?
I’m going for gold at the Lagos 2012 Sports Festival. I have been to the festival on two occasions and crashed out in the quarter finals. Next year’s edition must be different. Insha Allah, I’m winning gold this time around.

What is your future aspiration?
I wish to play professional tennis abroad. I think it would help me play at the highest level and I would be able to rise to fame in the game . The environment over there is conducive for a good player to make it big. I know that I will get sponsors to play in International Tennis Federation, ITF, tourneys and also get the right frame of mind to flourish in my chosen career. Tennis is a game where one has to be focused. I want to make it in tennis and change the orientation  of most Nigerians that you cannot make it in life aside western education.

Who is your role model ?
My role model is Serena Williams. I chose her because of her achievements in the game. She has won virtually everything and really impressed me. I look up to her and I hope to become number one player in the world someday. I love her so much and the way she plays tennis.

Can you talk about your family background?
I’m from a family of four. The third born of the family, my dad is an Engineer and my mum is a trader. I attended Alaba Lawson Primary School in Abeokuta, Ogun State and later went to Abeokuta Girls Grammar School. I’m an undergraduate student of Osun State University, studying Banking and Finance.

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