‘Tennis Is Big Business In Egypt’


While Nigeria still finds it very difficult to maintain her stand in tennis in Africa, Egyptian tennis is on the rise,  despite the revolution that has rocked the country in the last one year.

Sherif Sabry, a 36-year old Egyptian player who is taking part in the 12th edition of the Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship told P.M.NEWS at the venue of the ITF approved competition at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan on Monday that tennis in Egypt is a big business for both the players and the Egyptian federation.

“The standard of tennis is high in my country,” said Sabry, who learnt of the Governor’s Cup through the website of International Tennis Federation, ITF, and a friend who has been coming to Lagos for the tournament over the years.

“We have a lot of junior players who are making good progress in the game and we have a player who is under 20 on the ITF world ranking. We are also playing in the Davis Cup; we were dropped to Group 3 last year. This was due to the crisis in my country. Hopefully, we’ll be back in Group 2 next time,” said Sabry who came to Lagos with 601 world ranking.

Sabry disclosed that in a year before the revolution in Egypt, players usually enjoyed playing up to 18 tournaments organised by the tennis federation and private companies.

“We always had 18 weeks playing time in a year before the revolution. This helped keep our players busy throughout the year. The tournaments were organised by the federation and the private sector. So there was no dull moment for us in Egypt.

“This year alone, I have played about 14 tournaments around the world and I hope to play more before the year runs out. I came to Lagos from a tournament in Doha and when I leave here I’m going somewhere else to play. So success in tennis is all about how frequently a player is exposed to competitions,” he said.

Sabry said the reason he goes around the world to play tourneys is not only to improve on his ranking but to be exposed to different cultures.

“We have a good culture in Egypt but as a player I like to experience new things, that is why I’m in Lagos and I want to say that Lagos is good and the Governor’s Cup is a good tournament with good prize money to play for. My expectation is to do well in the two-week competition and I hope it will be for me,” he said.


Players’ Profiles

Shehu Lawal

Shehu Lawal is the current Nigeria number one player. He was born on 15 January, 1985.

Lawal is coached by Aliyu Shehu. According to ITF’s website, Lawal started playing tennis at age 14 and turned pro when he clocked 16.

He has been participating in the Governor’s Cup over the years without any success but with a pairing with Candy Idoko, he won the Doubles title in the 2005 edition and paired Abdulmumini Babalola to win another Doubles’ crown in 2008. Lawal has been representing Nigeria at the Euro Africa Davis Cup

He came to this year’s Governor’s Cup with the world ranking of  1406.


Fatimah Abinu

Fatimah Abinu was born on 26 January, 1986.

She is currently Nigeria’s number one female player. She is one of the respected players on the Nigerian tennis scene. A past winner of the annual CBN Senior Tennis Open, the only surviving tennis tournament which has been affording local players tennis action every year.

She has been participating in the annual Governor’s Cup with no success.

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Nina Bratchikova

Nina Bratchikova, a Russian born on 28 June 1985, in Zhukovsky) is a professional Russian tennis player. On 30 July 2012, she reached her highest WTA singles ranking of 87. But she is in the 2012 Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship on rank 93 in the world.

Coached by Andre Lopes, in 2010, Bratchikova, who turned pro in 2004, entered the ITF Tournament in Moscow, where she won the doubles event partnering French Irena Pavlovic against Ukrainian pair of Lyudmyla Kichenok & Nadiya Kichenok.

She also won the ITF singles event against Tamarine Tanasugarn in Johannesburg. Bratchikova made it to the 3rd Round of the 2012 Australian Open where she lost to Iveta Benešová. She made her Top 100 debut at 92 the following week.

Bratchikova has been coming to Lagos, Nigeria to win the annual Governor’s Cup in Lagos in the past and she is top seed in the women’s category and favoured to win the championship this year.


Chanel Simmonds

Chanel Simmonds (born 10 August 1992), is a South African professional tennis player. Her highest WTA singles ranking is 230, which she reached on 25 July 2011.Her career high in doubles is 300, which she reached on 22 August 2011. She reached a career high combined junior world ranking of 14 on 1 June 2009. She defeated the then world no. 85 – Klára Zakopalová 6–1 3–6 7–5 in the 1st round of $100K+H Johannesburg, in April 2010. She is a regular face in Lagos for the Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship. She is women’s second seed this year.

She was winner in ITF tournament in Changwon, Korea, Go Yang, Korea and Ain Elsokhna-4, Egypt last year. In 2010 She won São Paulo-2, Brazil, Durban-2, South Africa, Durban-1, South and Cairo-2, Egypt, while in 2009 she won Pretoria-2, South Africa.


Kamil Capkovic

Kamil Capkovic born on 2 June, 1986, is a professional Slovak tennis player. He was born in Michalovce, Slovak Republic.

Capkovic has spent most of his time on the Futures and Challenger circuits, where he has won several Futures titles. The Slovak star had won the  Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship  on three ocassions: on October 13, 2008 where he beat  Ilya Belyaev 6–3, 6–2, on October 20, 2008, he defeated Divij Sharan of India 6–4, 4–6, 6–4 and on 12. October 24, 2011 he beat Vijayant Malik of India  6–2, 7–5.

He had also won series of Futures in Belgrade, Vienna, Far, Bologna and many others. he is the men’s top seed in the 12th Governor’s Cup this year and favour to win the competition.


Ruan Roelofse

Ruan Roelofse is a South Africa born in Cape Town in 1989.

Roelofse is coached by Pietic Norval and he is ranked Number 1 in native land of South Africa. he was honored as the best junior athlete in 2003 and 2004. He was a top senior athlete 2005-2007. He was part of the South African Davis Cup team in 2008. His ITF junior world ranking high was Number 97. He participated at the 2007 Junior Australian and Junior US Opens.

—Taiwo Adelu

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