I’m Nigeria’s Best For Now


London-based Nigerian female tennis player, Adeyinka Elisabeth Thompson told DAMILARE OKUNOLA at the ongoing Governor’s Cup lagos Tennis Championship why she thinks she’s the best female tennis player in the country

What brought you back to Nigeria after so long?

The Governor’s Cup of course. It’s one tournament which attracts international coverage and followership. The atmosphere is always good and it’s also the tournament that helped me attain my highest ranking ever (900 in the world), not many were lucky to achieve this.

From what you’ve seen at this year’s championship, how would you rate the Nigerian players?

They are extremely hardworking and they have big hearts with such great fights in them. They sacrifice as much, if not more than their foreign counterparts but it’s quite different from the kind of support these foreign players get from their federations. Nadal is being sponsored by the Spanish federation and some others also enjoy the same but it’s quite different here.

So, what do you think is the bane of tennis in this country?

The players are not being taken care of or supported by the federation. You don’t expect a player who hasn’t played more than one or two tourneys in a year to perform well against one who plays round the clock, it’s just simple logic.

How did you start playing tennis?

My mother wanted to shed some weight playing tennis so I stole the racquet and started playing tennis against the wall at the Ikeja Country Club, when I was nine.

Is there any Nigerian player that you admire?

I saw Babalola and I must tell you that he’s such a good player with very few tournaments. You can only imagine what he’ll look like if he has been travelling round the world to play circuits.

The female players?

I’m a Nigerian and I back myself wherever I go. I think I’m the best female player in Nigeria, I’ll pay $100 to any of them who can defeat me in a competitive match.

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Any role model?

Of course, Roger Federer because I play the way he does.

So, how has it been playing tennis?

It’s been good, at least I’ve played in so many countries and I’ve also had to study Pharmacy at a University in Scotland.

Which is the priority, tennis or pharmacy?

Tennis has always been the priority but I had to get a qualification to always fall back on and that was why I went to the university. Now, I’m focussing on tennis.

What was growing up like?

It was nice and trust ‘Naija’ life, the humour is incomparable with what you can get anywhere else. I have three siblings with my mom trying to hold us together. l love my Amala and pounded yam but I’ve not been able to take it in a long time.

Are you married now?

Not yet, but I’m engaged to a lucky guy from Sweden and we’ll tie the knot whenever we are ready.

Are you thinking of giving back to the Nigerian society any time soon?

Yeah, it hasn’t crossed my mind yet but I was going to think about it anyway because you can’t totally cut out tennis from my life.

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