15th May, 2012
Winner of the just concluded 34th edition of the Central Bank of Nigeria Tennis Open, Abdulmumuni Babalola tells Damilare Okunola in this brief chat, that winning the trophy was not a fluke.
You are back to win this year’s CBN after several years?
It’s a great feeling for me to win the tourney again after missing it for some years. I really thank God for this success because it’s been long since I emerged as the champion of CBN Open. Kudos to my critics as well because they thought I would never win the tourney again but here I am smiling with my trophy.
You never envisage winning the trophy?
The issue is that I have never gone into any tournament seeking to lose. I was looking forward to emerging the champion again and I was very prepared for this tournament because I’ve been training hard prior to the competition and thank God my training did not go in vain.
Having won several championships, what does this one mean to you?
This particular trophy means a lot to me because people thought I would never win any tournament in this country again. But winning this year’s CBN Open will settle many things. I’ve justified my ranking in the country and shamed my critics.
How would you rate players’ performances this year compared to last year’s competition?
It has been a tourney with a lot of improvements, especially in the female category, where a young girl defeated almost every senior player she played against. The guys also improved considerably, that’s good news for us because we’ll have many top players in the country and that means we can win several tourneys. It also means that our players are really up to the task despite not having tournaments to help us get better.
Your final opponent happened to be your doubles’ partner.
Yes, I can say that he was my doubles’ partner but I was determined to win irrespective of the fact that we have been playing together for some time now. He’s also a fantastic player and as you could see, it was not easy defeating him because he also deserved to win the trophy.
What about the organisation of the tourney?
The organisers did well and I’m proud of them but one thing I want them to do for us is to increase the prize money for the guys because this tournament is Nigeria’s Grand Slam and the prize money should also live up to its billing.
It will also encourage all our players from wherever they are to come down here for the championship.
What’s next after CBN?
It’s the Davis Cup but it depends on the Nigerian Tennis Federation, NTF.