Nigerian Players Not Ready For Governor’s Cup

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With just few weeks to the commencement of the 12th Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship in Lagos, there is nothing on ground to show that Nigerian players are preparing for the tournament.

According to the website of the International Tennis Federation, ITF, the Governor’s Cup will hold at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan between 15-27 October this year. The Governor’s Cup has, over the years, afforded Nigerian players the opportunity to rub shoulders with their foreign counterparts, but none of them has won the competition since it became an ITF approved futures.

Our reporter, who has been visiting the tennis courts of the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, where the players are expected to be shaping up, discovered that the locals are not training for the tourney, which offers the sum of $80,000 as prize money.

“To me, they haven’t fared badly so far, and I don’t understand when people say that the players have not done well. How do you expect the players who don’t go out to play circuits to play better than their foreign counterparts, who have the advantage of playing all over the world?

“Let these guys go on tour of European countries for top cometitions including the ATP regularly, and you’ll see what’ll become of them in the near future, ” said tennis coach, Frank Termena.

Bhambri Yuki, an Indian, who won the Men’s Singles in the first leg of last year’s championship, said he started playing tennis at the age of six, and already playing with the ‘big boys’ when he was just eighteen years old. But the same cannot be said about many Nigerian players.

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Nollywood’s veteran actor, Kanayo O. Kanayo recently said that “The idea of getting an Olympic champion within six months will not work for Nigeria. These players need to play many tournaments to get the best out of them.”

Also, Nigeria’s losing finalist at the men’s doubles event last year, Abdulmumini Babalola, believes the Nigerian society is not helping an average tennis player, disclosing that it is hard for them to go out to play competitions because of lack of funds.

“It has been hard for us to play games outside the country. So, how do you expect us to perform well? We play just two or three tournaments in a year, how will that make us better?” he lamented.

While the tournament is organised expectedly to improve Nigerian tennis, the event is yet to show how many of them have benefitted from it.

By Damilare Okunola

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