3rd July, 2012
Teenage tennis player, Sarah Adegoke told DAMILARE OKUNOLA how her dad forced her to play tennis
How has it been trying to be a top Nigerian tennis player?
I’ve been trying in my own little way because tennis is not that popular in Nigeria. However, God has given me the grace to weather the storm.
Why did you choose to play tennis?
Tennis was forced on me by my dad and he has been my motivator since I started playing the game. I don’t have any other training partner except my dad. Unfortunately, I don’t get to play a formidable opponent during my training sessions.
For how long have you been playing tennis?
I’ve been playing since I was six and I’m about 15 years old now. So, I’ve been in the game for at least eight years. I’ve played a couple of tournaments since then- the African Junior Championship, AJC, CBN Open, NNPC and several others that I cannot remember now.
What has kept you on in the game since it’s your dad who has been pushing you?
The only driving factor is watching people playing the game. More importantly its my desire to win.
Despite your age, you went on a fairy tale run at this year’s CBN Open only to lose in the final, what really happened in that match?
Initially, I never believed that I could defeat those that I played against prior to the final game against Fatima Abinu, but going that far gave me a kind of self-belief because I thought I could create an upset and made history. I just wasn’t myself that day so, I did not win. Everything went wrong for me. My serves weren’t as hard as they used to be and to tell the truth I was really disappointed with that performance. The only consolation is that it was my first shot at the CBN Open in the senior category where nobody gave me a chance.
If you were not a tennis player, what would you be doing?
I love singing and dancing though I’m not so fantastic at doing them very well. I’ve been trying to practise them in order to perfect my skills.
How have you been able to cope with your education and playing tennis?
Before leaving for any tournament or any game, I always take permission from the school authority and when I come back, I try to make up for the lost time. Sincerely, my teachers in the school have been wonderful as they are there for me whenever I’m not in the school.
I’m a SS2 student of St. Louis Secondary School in Ibadan, Oyo State.
You have a small family?
I have just one sibling and he’s an engineer working and living in America.
What’s your ambition in tennis?
All I want to achieve is to become a world class tennis player someday.
Any role model?
My role model used to be Venus Williams, but now I follow Maria Sharapova because I believe she has a very good height, just like me and she hits harder when she’s angry; that’s what I try to emulate when I’m playing.